American whiskeys are helping to drive growth in spirits sales in the United States, according to analysis by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).
In its annual economic briefing, DISCUS said that American whiskey – along with Tequila and Mezcal – played a key part in the growth of premium spirits sales in the US in 2022.
American whiskey was both one of the top five spirits categories by revenue in 2022, with sales totalling US$5.1 billion, and one of the five fastest-growing categories, with those revenues representing a 10.5 per cent increase on the year before.
Overall, DISCUS reported that spirits supplier sales in the US were up 5.1 per cent in 2022 to a record total of US$37.6 billion, while volumes rose 4.8 per cent to 305 million nine-litre cases.
During the briefing on Wednesday, DISCUS' chief of public policy and strategy Christine LoCascio said that while a softening of the economy had slowed down growth in premium spirits sales, they still accounted for more than 60 per cent of the spirits sector's total revenue, “mainly led by Tequila and American whiskey”.
“While many consumers are feeling the pinch from inflation and reduced disposable income, they are still willing to purchase that special bottle of spirits, choosing to sip a little luxury and drink better, not more,” LoCascio said.
2022 also marked the first time that spirits took a larger share of the US beverage alcohol market than beer, accounting for 42.1 per cent of revenues compared with beer's 41.9 per cent.
DISCUS president and CEO Chris Swonger said: “Year after year, the spirits sector has slowly gained market share by staying focused on our consumers, delivering innovative, high-end products, and advocating to level the playing field for spirits, beer and wine products in the marketplace and legislative arena. As DISCUS celebrates its 50th anniversary, spirits taking the lead in revenue share represents a historic milestone for all leaders in the spirits industry, past and present, to toast.”
The briefing also covered the increasingly important role that distillery tourism is playing in the sector, with research presented by Michael Mariano, head of economic development for Tourism Economics, on the economic impacts of spirits tourism at the state level.
The research, which was commissioned by DISCUS, analysed 2019 data for distilleries in New York, California, and Texas (home to the US' largest populations of craft distilleries) and measured the direct and indirect impacts arising from distillery visitors’ spending both on-site at distilleries and at nearby off-site establishments. The research found the total economic impact of distillery tourism generated US$715.2 million in Texas, US$546.4 million in New York, and US$417.8 million in California.
“Our research found that distilleries have become a huge draw for non-local visitors,” said Mariano. “While we only analysed data in three states, this phenomenal growth in distilleries is happening across the country attracting tourists, supporting surrounding businesses, and bolstering state and local economies.”