Pour It Up: American Whiskey Is About to Get Way More Popular

by Jennifer Shea

A new study of the global whiskey market finds American whiskey has been booming over the past few years. And it’s only likely to get more popular in the future.

The study, by AMA Research, finds that rising urbanization and an expansion of ultra-premium brands have resulted in a surge of whiskey buying worldwide.

The growing demand for premium whiskeys in developed countries is likely to goose whiskey growth even more in upcoming years, the report found.

Another Report Sees Obstacles for American Whiskey

Other research, from Mordor Intelligence, acknowledges the rise in demand for whiskey in developed and developing countries, particularly India and China. But it also points out a few flies in the ointment.

For one thing, the coronavirus pandemic shuttered restaurants, hotels and liquor stores all around the world. And it put a damper on tourism, denting overall global whiskey sales, Mordor said.

For another, Mordor’s report foresees strict government trade regulations over the next half-decade. Thus far, those have been U.S. tariffs impacting Scotch and Irish whiskey, not American whiskey. But there’s no telling what kind of retaliatory tariffs the European Union might impose.

As of now, America boasts the lion’s share of global whiskey sales. Premium brands are driving American whiskey’s ascent. High-end premium revenues jumped by 37 percent over the past five years. Meanwhile, super-premium leaped by 136 percent.

High Competition, Rising Preference for Organic

Health-conscious drinkers – no, that’s not an oxymoron – are driving one of the major trends in whiskey right now: organic whiskeys. Denmark is a leader in that category, and the value of organic alcoholic drinks exported from Denmark rose by 129.6 percent from 2013 to 2017.

In a sign of the popularity of those whiskeys, some companies have even rolled out high-quality artisan-distilled spirits made from organic materials grown just for them.

Moreover, many of the key players in the global whiskey market are expanding their businesses. And that’s causing fierce competition between them. Some of the top names in the global whiskey market are Diageo PLC, Bacardi Ltd, Asahi Group Holdings Ltd, Pernod Ricard SA and Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd.

Long story short? It looks like the business is about to get interesting for American whiskey makers. More premium brands. More organic whiskeys. And more intense competition.