Distilled Spirits Sector Growth Accelerates in 2016

Gains Market Share for Seventh Consecutive Year

NEW YORK--()--The distilled spirits sector achieved accelerated growth in 2016 with supplier sales up 4.5 percent to $25.2 billion, volumes up 2.4 percent to 220 million cases and a seventh straight year of market share gains relative to beer, the Distilled Spirits Council announced today at its annual economic briefing for media and Wall Street analysts, sponsored by Spirited Funds.

“The continued growth of the spirits sector clearly demonstrates that adult consumers’ taste for and interest in premium distilled spirits, across all categories, is trending upward,” said Distilled Spirits Council President and CEO Kraig R. Naasz. “Spirits makers continue to develop new innovations to appeal to a growing audience of adult millennials, and they are responding by purchasing and enjoying our products.”

American whiskey – Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye – continued to captivate U.S. consumers with volumes up 6.8 percent to 21.8 million cases and revenues up 7.7 percent to $3.1 billion. Several other spirits categories performed exceptionally well in the U.S. market including:

  • Cognac volumes up 12.9 percent to 5.1 million cases; revenues up 15.3 percent to $1.5 billion;
  • Irish Whiskey volumes up 18.7 percent to 3.8 million cases; revenues up 19.8 percent to $795 million;
  • Tequila volumes up 7.1 percent to 15.9 million cases; revenues up 7.5 percent to $2.5 billion; and importantly,
  • Vodka volumes, which represent one-third of all spirits volumes, up 2.4 percent to 69.8 million cases; revenues up 4.1 percent to $6 billion.

The Council estimated that overall retail sales of distilled spirits in the U.S. market reached nearly $78 billion in 2016, supporting more than 1.4 million jobs in the hospitality and manufacturing sectors.

The spirits sector’s strong performance in 2016 resulted in market share gains relative to beer for the seventh straight year, as reported by Council Chief Economist David Ozgo. Spirits’ market share increased by one-half a point to 35.9 percent. Each point of market share is worth approximately $700 million in suppler revenue.

Ozgo cited key factors contributing to the spirits sector’s continued growth, including:

  • The American Whiskey trend has plenty of room for growth as the country trends back toward historic levels of whiskey consumption;
  • Cocktails are exceptionally well-positioned to meet adult millennials’ demand for unique and varied experiences;
  • Spirits fit nicely into the trend of consumer interest in brands with authentic, interesting backstories;
  • Local distilleries are driving modernization of state and local laws and generating excitement in the overall spirits category; and
  • Spirits have become a fixture in popular culture and are part of the norm.

Total U.S. spirits export volumes increased 6.8 percent in 2016, driven largely by American whiskey – Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye – which increased 10.2 percent in 2016.

Distilled Spirits Council Senior Vice President for International Affairs Christine LoCascio attributed the volume growth to global fascination with the American Whiskey story; the exporting of cocktail culture; and the mixabililty and versatility of America’s native spirit.

Supporting Materials:

2016 Distilled Spirits Briefing Full Release
Annual Economic Briefing Presentation
2016 Annual Briefing Support Tables

The Distilled Spirits Council is the national trade association representing producers and marketers of distilled spirits sold in the United States.


Distilled Spirits Council
Frank Coleman

Release Summary

Annual Economic Briefing


Distilled Spirits Council
Frank Coleman