High-end spirits are sparking growth

The spirits market in the U.S. grew 3.5 percent in 2011 and achieved a slight increase in share of total alcohol, with the fastest growth coming from some of the newest brands to enter the market. According to data released today in Technomic’s 2012 SpiritsTAB report, total spirits volume reached 199.8 million 9-liter cases. Technomic found that spirits now account for 6.4 percent of total alcohol, or adult beverage, up from 6.1 percent in 2010.

“The positive growth trend indicates that the spirits industry remains vibrant, innovative and ever more relevant to today’s consumer,” said Donna Hood Crecca, Senior Director of the Adult Beverage Resource Group at Technomic. “While trends vary within each spirits category, much of the growth occurred at the higher end of the pricing spectrum, and we also saw increases among unique and boutique spirits. This indicates that consumers are willing to spend for quality spirits, despite the economic trends, whether in a bar or restaurant or at a retail store. What’s more, they remain interested in exploring new and different expressions.”

More than 1,000 brands within 12 spirits categories and their various sub-segments are tracked by Technomic. Vodka remains the largest category, with a 32 percent share of spirits volume, and achieved the largest case gain. Irish whiskey, the smallest category, recorded the largest increase – 22 percent. Other hot spots were tequila, rye and corn whiskey. Imported spirits outperformed domestics, but domestics retained the edge in terms of volume. Three-quarters of spirits volume is sold in off-premise outlets such as grocery and liquor stores, while slightly more than half of spirits retail dollars occur in on-premise venues including bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

Diageo maintained its position as the leading spirits supplier, with Beam, Bacardi USA, Sazerac and Pernod Ricard USA ranking second through fifth, respectively. The fastest-growing spirits suppliers were White Rock Distilleries, Imperial Brands and Proximo Spirits.

 Leading Suppliers' Share of Spirits in 2011


 Beam Inc.


 Bacardi USA




 Pernod Richard USA


 All Others


On a brand basis, Smirnoff retained its number one ranking, and the top five brands each maintained their positions. Rising into the top 20 is Pinnacle Vodka, which jumped into the top 20 on a 93 percent growth rate; the brand was marketed by White Rock Distilleries in 2011 and recently was acquired by Beam. Among the top 250 spirits brands by volume, the biggest gain was achieved by Skinnygirl Cocktails, marketed by Beam Inc., with a 388 percent increase that broke the 500,000-case mark. Familia Camarena Tequila, marketed by E&J Gallo subsidiary Alto Spirits, achieved 233 percent growth, making it the second-fastest growing brand. Other brands achieving triple-digit increases include Malibu Prepared Cocktails, Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and Rökk Vodka.

The Fastest Growing Spirits Brands

 Ranked by Percentage Increase in Volume in 2011 vs. 2010

(000's of 9-leter cases)

 Rank Brand Marketer/Importer

 2011 Volume

Percent Change

 1Skinnygirl Cocktails Beam Inc.



 2Familia Camarena TequilaAlto Spirits/E & J Gallo Winery



 3Malibu Prepared Cocktails Pernod Richard USA



 4Fireball Cinnamon Whisky Sazerac



 5Rokk Vodka Diageo



Consumer insights developed for the report reveal that males and Millennials are among the most active spirits consumers. Males frequent multiple on-premise venues and spend more on spirits purchases than female consumers. Millennials seek variety and are more likely to try new beverages than other age groups.

The 2012 SpiritsTAB report includes spirits industry, category and brand metrics, as well as economic and import/export trends, consumer insights and projections for 2012 performance.  SpiritsTAB is part of the Trends in Adult Beverage (TAB) series. To request a copy of the Executive Summary, contact Donna Hood Crecca.

To purchase or learn more about SpiritsTAB, WineTAB and BeerTAB, as well as other industry reports and services for adult beverage suppliers please visit Technomic.

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.