Minneapolis, Minn., (July 6, 2023) — The Distilled Spirits industry remained resilient in 2022 as it achieved its 25th consecutive year of steady volume growth, up 5.4% to 290.8 million 9-liter cases. Distilled Spirits were the bright spot for the adult beverage market, gaining 14.9 million 9-liter cases vs. 2021. Innovation, line extensions that resonate with consumers’ interest and changing tastes, and premium offerings, along with an increased focus on aged expressions have helped elevate the category and are the drivers of this growth.
The spirits segment attributes the momentum partly to consumers buying more brands as they continued their at-home mixology movement started during the pandemic, and the ongoing recovery of the hospitality industry. Despite the difficult economic environment in 2022, consumer interest in drinking high-end spirits and fine cocktails at home and in on-premise establishments were among the key factors boosting the spirits industry in the past year.
The spirits segment has increased 3.2% on average since 1998, and 3.9% on average in just the last five years, while significantly outperforming the wine and beer categories. Growth in the spirits category continues driving the beverage alcohol industry forward more than beer or wine.
Three liquor categories attained single-digit growth levels in 2022 — Straight Whiskey, Irish Whiskey, Cordials & Liqueurs. Just two categories realized double digit growth — Ready-to-Drink and Tequila and were the only two segments to gain share of distilled spirits.
Although the premiumization trend in spirits sales slowed overall in 2022, it remained strong due to the growth in the Tequila/Mezcal and American Whiskey categories. The deceleration was attributed to the softening of the economy, as well as the return to an average spirits growth rate following the pandemic boost of consumers buying more super-premium brands as they continued the at-home mixology that began during the pandemic, and the resurgence of on-premise inventory re-stocking and consumption.
Tequila/Mezcal sales remained red hot in the U.S. for 2022 as volume consumption grew 11.6, now claiming a 10% share of the entire distilled spirits market. Tequila was the second-fastest-growing spirits category of 2022 and surpassed the Cordials & Liqueurs category to become the third-largest spirits category. Many of the leading tequila brands posted volume growth with nearly half at double-digit increases. Six of the top tequila brands ranked within the top 50 of the leading 150 distilled spirits we track — including Jose Cuervo (No.11) and Patron (No.18), with Casamigos and Don Julio achieving significant gains to land at the No.25 and No.29 spots, respectively, on the list for the first time in 2022. “By any measure, tequila has become a primary catalyst for the spirits industry. Premiumization helps greatly. Rising consumer interest in this category is driven largely by a growing taste for top-shelf bottles,” explains Marina Velez, Research Director at the Beverage Information Group.
The fastest-growing segment of distilled spirits is the RTD category. RTDs have experienced steady growth since 2016, with large gains happening within the last three years. With a 12.9% share, RTDs are now the second-largest distilled spirits category, behind vodka after having gained 4.1% share to surpass Straight Whiskeys, Cordials & Liqueurs and Tequila for overall volume consumption in 2022. The growth trajectory for category leader High Noon Sun Sips, a vodka-based RTD by Spirit of Gallo, has been unprecedented: High Noon overtook Tito's in just a few years to become the largest distilled spirits brand in the U.S.
About the 2023 Liquor Handbook
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The Beverage Information Group’s 2023 Liquor Handbook is the most comprehensive source of information on U.S. spirits and sales trends. It includes consumption and projection information by category and by market, tracks leading brands, and reports historical data.
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