Luxury Spirits Sales Grew 23% in 2d Quarter: DISCUS

Sales of spirits brands at the top end of the distilled spirits market grew 23% in the second quarter of 2022 compared with the same quarter of 2021, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.'s Luxury Brands Index.

DISCUS Chief of Public Policy Christine LoCascio said that the positive trend is striking because it occurred despite the highest inflation in decades and negative economic growth in the second quarter of 2022.

“We continued to see strong consumer demand for luxury spirits brands through the second quarter of 2022 despite the current economic environment,” said LoCascio, noting that historically, the spirits sector has been resilient during tough economic conditions.

“It appears macroeconomic headwinds slowed the astonishing growth rate of luxury spirits sales of 2021 but were not strong enough to reverse the positive premiumization trend. Distilled spirits are affordable luxuries that bring spirits consumers great joy. Consumers are willing to spend extra for that special spirit and choosing to drink better, not more,” LoCassio said.

Key highlights of the LBI 2022 Second-Quarter Report include:

  • Tequila showed the largest increase with 43% annual growth rate followed by American Whiskey that rose 30%. The growth rate for both categories approximately halved in the second quarter of 2022 with respect to growth rate registered during the year-ago period.
  • Scotch Whisky grew faster than the year-ago period with a 13% annual growth rate in the current period compared with a 10% growth rate in the year-ago period.
  • After a very strong showing in the year-ago period with a 48% annual growth, Cognac was able to hang onto its gains with a 9% annual growth in the current period. Similarly, Irish Whiskey growth slowed down to 7% in the current period from 24% in the year-ago period. Japanese Whisky was flat.

Over the five years between the second quarter of 2017 and 2022, all spirits categories included in the Luxury Brand Index increased annual growth ranging from 8 to 45 percent, with an average rate of 24%.  Both American Whiskey and Tequila were the best performing categories over the last five years. Each grew 45% per year followed by Cognac with annual growth rate of 18% percent.

The performance of Scotch Whisky and Japanese Whisky was relatively muted at 8 percent annual growth rate each. U.S. tariffs imposed in 2019 on Single Malt Scotch Whisky likely impacted sales. Meanwhile, Irish Whiskey rose 15
percent annually during the same period.

The LBI tracks the performance of spirits brands that have a 750ml retail price of $50 or more. Retail prices were calculated by IRI Worldwide using retail scanner data. Volumes were derived from the DISCUS’ proprietary brand data. The index is calculated based on four quarter rolling total starting in 2015. The base year of the index is 2020.

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