The Council announced the numbers in its annual briefing on the industry, noting that it was the sixth straight year of spirits increasing its market share relative to the beer industry.
Overall sales in the US for 2015 were $72bn, according to the report. Total market share gains by spirits versus beer since 2000 was 6.7 points, with each point valued at $680m.
Whiskey’s big year
The big grower this year, and for the last many years, was whiskey. The Council reported a revenue increase of 8% this year, with super premium whiskeys gaining favor with US consumers by double digits.
Eric Reller, director of state government communications at Distilled Spirits Council, told BeverageDaily that it has been at least five years of growth for the whiskey segment.
“The rise of the cocktail has been great for whiskey,” he said. “It’s so mixable that it goes well in many cocktails. The demand, domestically and internationally, people love US whiskeys in particular, especially Tennessee whiskey and rye. Millennials of legal drinking age tend to have interest in innovation of flavor, which perfectly fits with whiskey.”
Other categories that saw big increases this year include tequila, which saw sales grow 9.4%, and cognac, with a sales growth of 16.2%.
Small distilleries and exports grow
Reller said there has been a gigantic increase in the number of small distilleries in the last 15 years. There were only a handful in the early 2000s; the Council estimates there are now at least 700 across the US.
That’s good news for the ever-growing US export market. While export sales were hurt a bit by the dollar’s current strength, it still brought in $1.56bn for 2015.
Top export markets for 2015 were:
- UK at $226.1m
- Canada at $194.7m
- Germany at $128.5m
- Australia at $126.1m
- Japan at $108.3m
The UK saw the most growth for 2015, with an additional $47.6m made in exports for the year.