Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey Booms


You may have already noticed it, but just in case: once again, American whiskey boomed last year.

The Distilled Spirits Council reports that bourbon and Tennessee whiskies leapt almost 7.5 percent in 2014, with super-premium up an astonishing 19.2 percent. Irish whisky, too, kept up its torrid pace, growing a little over nine percent, with growth focused at the higher end expressions.

The Council reported that total U.S. volume growth increased 2.2 percent, and spirits achieved a slight increase in market share versus beer for the fifth straight year. Total market share gains versus beer since 2000 totaled 6.4 points with each point of market share equaling approximately $650 million in supplier sales.

“Consumer interest in industry innovations and premium products from distilled spirits producers of all sizes contributed to another year of steady growth in 2014,” said Distilled Spirits Council President and CEO Peter H. Cressy. “In the U.S. market, strong consumer interest in cocktails, along with continuing market access and modernization improvements, is providing the industry with a solid base for future growth.”

In presenting the latest U.S. category data, Council Chief Economist David Ozgo highlighted the data showing that flavored whiskeys continued their strong growth, to some extent drawing consumers from other categories but also attracting adult consumers who are new to distilled spirits. In fact, flavored products, whether vodka, rum or whiskey, grew by 1.9 million cases.

Single Malt Scotch continued its rapid growth, up 6.4 percent. Cognac volumes were also up an impressive 11.4 percent; and tequila volumes grew five percent. Tequila, too, grew mainly at the higher-priced end. Ozgo also reported that while flavored vodka sales were off, traditional vodka volumes were up 3.7 percent.

Categories that didn't do so well last year: Canadian dropped slightly (down one percent), blended Scotches continued to lag (down three percent), although total whiskey grew at 7.3 percent. Rum lost traction (down 1.5 percent), gin continued to slide (down 2.7 percent, although the super-premium end most often seen at bars and restaurants gained an impressive 19.8 percent), and cordials were down 1.1 percent. While some spirit volume analysts count flavored whiskies as cordials, Discus includes them in total whiskey as blended whiskey.