Alcohol consumption declines in US but Irish whiskey sales buoyant

New figures show consumption declined for second consectutive year in US last year


Alcohol consumption in the US declined dramatically again last year but sales of Irish whiskey remained strong, new figures show.

Data from International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR), show alcohol consumption fell by 0.2 per cent overall. This is equivalent to 17.6 million gallons or 7.4 million nine-litre cases, and is more than double the amount that consumption dropped by in 2016.

The bright spots were in wine and spirits which stole market share from beer and increased in volume.

Whiskey sales rose 3.9 per cent overall, easily outperforming sales of other spirits. The jump in volumes was led by Irish whiskey, which grew at 16.3 per cent, down from 17.6 per cent a year earlier but still strong considering the overall trend. Scotch sales were up by just 0.1 per cent by comparison.

Overall, spirits sales were up 2.3 per cent with wine volumes rising 1.3 per cent. Beer sales fell by 0.5 per cent, a heavy loss given that it accounts for 79 per cent of total alcohol consumed in the US.

IWSR attributed the decrease in beverage alcohol consumption to the slow-building trend of moderation or not drinking at all.

Figures published by IWSR last year showed sales of Irish whiskey increased from 11 per cent globally in 2016, rising from 7.8 million nine-litre cases to 8.7 million.

The US is the leading market for Irish whiskey followed by Ireland, France, the UK and South Africa.

Irish whiskey is sold in at least 135 countries and exports are forecast to double to 144 million bottles by 2020.