American consumers are expanding their spirits purchases as their economy stabilises, experimenting with new products, trading up and crossing categories. Both on- and off-trade sales rose in 2014 compared to 2013, reflecting a rise in disposable income and increased consumer confidence.
American whiskeys continue their recent upward trend, while other categories have fallen out of favour and are struggling to achieve growth. According to the Beverage Information Group's recently released Liquor Handbook 2015, distilled spirits achieved its 18th consecutive year of volume growth in the United States, up 1.5% and reaching 211.8 million 9-litre cases in 2014.
The whiskey renaissance shows no signs of slowing down. American whiskeys are trendy and sales continue to rise, as millennial consumers demand authentic products with heritage and history. Straight whiskey increased by 6.4% to 18.8 million 9-litre cases. Blended whiskey, which has been trending flat over the years, also increased slightly. Irish whiskey, the smallest of all the distilled spirits categories, is also the fastest-growing. It followed up 11 years of double-digit growth with a healthy 7.8% increase last year.
Whiskeys weren't the only categories to grow in 2014. Vodka increased by 1.0% to 72.0 million 9-litre cases in 2014, marking the category's 19th consecutive year of gains. Tequila continued its five-year rise of over 5%, while brandy and cognac climbed 3.5% to 11.1 million 9-litre cases. Cordials and liqueurs were basically flat, but import Fireball continued its streak of triple-digit growth and finished 2014 at 3.9 million 9-litre cases.
Canadian whiskey, Scotch whiskey, gin, rum and prepared cocktails saw overall declines.