All about Alcohol - Global Trade Magazine
  April 14th, 2016 | Written by

All about Alcohol

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  • Imported whiskeys are also becoming more popular with Americans.
  • The U.S. ranks second among trading nations with total trade in spirits.
  • 42 percent of all hard alcohol purchased in the United States is imported.

Liquor delivered another year of growth in 2015, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). Domestic sales were up 4.1 percent and volumes up 2.3 percent.

One driver of growth was demand for American whiskeys–Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye–booming at home and abroad, with 7.8 percent growth in that category.

According to DISCUS, imported whiskeys are also becoming more popular with Americans. Last year revenues generated by Irish whisky and single malt Scotch grew 19.9 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively. Spirits ranked 124th among trade commodities with total trade of $55.3 billion in 2014. (Complete global data for 2015 is not yet available).

The U.S. ranks second among trading nations with total trade in spirits valued at $9.17 billion in 2014, according to an analysis from Datamyne. The UK ranked first with $9.43 billion. The U.S. ranked third as an exporter of spirits, with $1.97 billion, behind France with exports valued at $4.58 billion, and the UK with $8.33 billion.

The U.S. is the top importer of liquor, with 2014 imports of $7.19 billion, while Germany is the distant second with imports of $1.72 billion.

The DISCUS data shows that 42 percent of all hard alcohol purchased in the United States is imported. This is a significantly bigger share than is the case for wine or beer, where imports stand at 23 percent and 13 percent, respectively. It is estimated that the United States imported $7.26 billion of liquor in 2015, three percent more than in 2014. Liquor import values have been steadily increasing every year since 2009.

Whiskeys are America’s favorite liquor import, accounting for almost a third of U.S. hard alcohol imports. In 2015, whiskey imports totaled $1.99 billion, with Scotch and Irish whisky accounting for $1.69 billion. Vodka is in second place with imports valued at $1.57 billion in 2015. Other top imports include brandy and tequila.

In 2015, U.S. distillers exported $1.96 billion in hard alcohol, slightly lower than in 2014. Bourbon was the number-one US export, with $728 million in 2015 shipments.