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Spirits Outperform Wine And Beer For Eighth Consecutive Year

January 14, 2021

American drinkers are increasingly favoring spirits as their beverage alcohol of choice, with the category again outperforming wine and beer in 2020. Spirits consumption by volume in the U.S. is estimated to have accelerated by more than 5% in 2020, more than double the rate of the prior year, as the category achieved its 25th consecutive annual gain, according to Impact Databank. While the wine market registered a smaller, modest increase of its own last year, beer volumes (excluding seltzer, FMBs, and cider) declined for the fourth year in a row in 2020.

Spirits growth last year came largely from the double-digit gains in the off-premise. For the 52-week period ending December 27, spirits volume rose 19.4% in IRI channels, while dollar sales surged 22.4%. The two fastest-growing major spirits categories were priced well above the IRI average of $12.76 a 750-ml: Tequila ($24.05 per bottle) and Cognac ($37.35) posted volume gains of 27.5% and 26.9%, respectively, last year in the off-premise. Hennessy, driving much of the growth in the Cognac category, became the largest-selling brandy in the U.S. for the first time ever in 2020, according to Impact Databank.

Other fast-growing segments in IRI channels over the past 52 weeks include Irish whiskey (+25.4% by volume), cordials/liqueurs (+17.8%), American whiskies (+17.3%), and gin (+15.2%). Categories slightly behind the industry’s aggregate double-digit growth include Canadian whisky (+9.7%), rum (+9.4%), vodka (+9.2%), Scotch whisky (+5.5%), and domestic brandy (+1%). Tito’s vodka surged by 32% in the off-premise last year, propelling it to the top volume spot in the U.S. market, but Crown Royal (including flavors) still leads all spirits brands in dollar terms, according to Impact Databank.—Natalia Razzo

The Top 10 Spirits Brands In The U.S. Off-Premise
(millions of dollars)
Rank Brand Company Type 52 Weeks Ending
52 Weeks Ending
1 Tito’s Fifth Generation Domestic Vodka $336.9 $440.0 30.6%
2 Smirnoff Red Label Diageo North America Domestic Vodka $187.0 $210.0 12.3%
3 Crown Royal2 Diageo North America Canadian Whisky $169.2 $178.3 5.3%
4 Jack Daniel’s Black Brown-Forman Tennessee Whiskey $133.0 $157.9 18.7%
5 Captain Morgan Original Spiced Diageo North America Virgin Islands Rum $141.5 $153.9 8.8%
6 Jameson Pernod Ricard USA Irish Whiskey $126.2 $151.5 20.0%
7 Jose Cuervo Especial Proximo Spirits Tequila $109.3 $139.0 27.2%
8 Fireball Sazerac Co. Flavored Canadian Whisky $121.1 $129.5 6.9%
9 Jim Beam2 Beam Suntory Bourbon $115.5 $126.4 9.4%
10 Hennessy VS Moët Hennessy USA Cognac $96.9 $124.7 28.7%
Total Top 10 $1,536.6 $1,811.2 17.9%
Other Brands $4,635.9 $5,745.6 23.9%
Total Spirits3 $6,172.4 $7,556.7 22.4%
1 Based on unrounded data.
2 Excludes flavors.
3 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.
Sources: IRI and IMPACT DATABANK © 2021
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