9 Things We Just Learned About The Liquor Industry

Whiskey drinking oceanREUTERS/ Eduardo MunozPeople can’t get enough whiskey.

If you want evidence of the whiskey renaissance, look no further than Suntory’s recent acquisition of Beam Inc.

The Japanese liquor giant coughed up $US13.6 billion for Beam — which distills the flagship Jim Beam and the higher-end Maker’s Mark — making it the world’s third largest maker of distilled drinks.

There’s a major appetite for America whiskey these days. In 2013, bourbon and Tennessee whiskey exports broke the $US1 billion mark for the first time ever, according to new data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).

“There’s a bit of a taste for American heritage,” said DISCUS CEO Peter Cressy. Not to mention, “Cocktail culture continues to grow.”

DISCUS, a trade organisation that represents American distillers, outlined the booze industry for reporters and Wall Street analysts at an event this morning. And booze is booming.

Here’s what we learned.

1. Bourbon has absolutely exploded in recent years and has now crossed the $US1 billion mark.

2. Emerging markets can’t get enough of American spirits.

3. Exports to the EU have spiked ever since the U.S. and Europe eased tariffs in 1994.

4. Exports to China have also jumped.

5. For decades, whiskey was on the steady decline.

6. But since 2009, whiskey is back. It’s hard to attribute this to one thing. Tastes change. Just as “Sex and the City” brought back the Cosmo and cocktail culture, shows like “Boardwalk Empire” and “Mad Men” have propelled whiskey and rye in a big way.

7. And when you break down the whiskey category, you can see how bourbon is leading the pack.

8. Purists may despise flavored whiskey, but the category accounted for 45% of whiskey volume growth in 2013, according to DISCUS. Still, traditional whiskey accounted for 80% of revenue growth.

9. Other categories have seen impressive growth too. Tequila revenue was up 7.9% in 2013, while cognac volume grew 3.7%.

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