The U.S. spirits industry has good reason to raise a glass. At its annual briefing in February, the Distilled Spirits Council reported that sales of U.S. spirits grew steadily in 2015. Whiskey sales were particularly strong, and only one liquor, rum, saw a decrease in revenues.

Read on for highlights, or view the full report here.

General spirits sales in 2015

  • Total retail sales in the U.S. market were almost $72 billion.
  • Overall, volume grew by 2.3%, and supplier revenues grew by 4.1%.
  • Volume growth of high-end and “super premium” liquors rose the most, at 7.1% and 6.5%, respectively.
  • Volume of value liquors rose by only 0.1%, and “premium” liquors by 1.0%.
  • Export volumes increased by 4%, though revenue was relatively flat due to a strong dollar.
  • For the sixth year in a row, spirits continued to gain market share relative to beer.

Whiskey

  • “Super premium” whiskeys led the way in whiskey category growth, with volumes up 25.2% and revenue up 26.5%.
  • Revenues for American whiskey (bourbon, Tennessee, rye, and white/corn) rose by 7.8%, to $2.9 billion.
  • Canadian whiskeys and blends saw revenues rise by 8.1%, to $1.8 billion.
  • Irish whiskey saw 19.9% revenue growth, to $664 million.
  • Single malt scotch revenues rose 13.5%, to $732 million.
  • Blended scotch revenues were flat at $1.4 billion.
  • American whiskey export volumes grew by 5.4%.

Other spirits

  • Tequila had 9.4% revenue growth, to $2.3 billion.
  • Cognac had 16.2% revenue growth, to $1.3 billion.
  • Vodka sales were up 0.5%, to $5.8 billion.
  • Rum sales were down 2%, to $2.3 billion.

Key growth factors

According to the Council, key factors influencing the spirits sector’s growth in 2015 include:

  • Increasing demand for American whiskeys in the U.S. and abroad
  • The interests of drinking-age Millennials
  • Laws and policies concerning alcohol and certain taxes
  • The increasing prevalence of micro-distilleries
  • Increasing interest in “craft-style, artisanal products”
  • The continued popularity of “cocktail culture”

Future trends

The Council suggests the following factors may influence the liquor market in 2016:

  • Changes to alcohol laws
  • Grocery-store interest in selling spirits
  • Realignment and consolidation of wholesalers
  • Expansion of online delivery services
  • Growth of micro-distillers
  • Continued efforts toward expanding spirits exports from the U.S.
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