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These are the 5 fastest growing spirits in the US

Vodka lumbers on, gin starts to stall, and tequila triumphs – we break down recent sales figures on spirits in the US to see where the market is headed in the coming months.

Consumer data analytics firm Nielsen recently released figures on the total sales of  spirits in the US based on a variety of factors, from brands, to parent companies, right down to styles.

Across the board, sales of spirits are on the rise. Americans spend more than $6 billion (£780 million) on them in the 12 months to July 2018, but their spending habits are shifting away from white varieties to dark, flavour-filled liquids like whiskey and tequila.

Ongoing premiumisation in the sector has led to increased expenditure, while consumers’ new-found taste for unique and craft-focused drinks has allowed the market to become more diverse than ever. In just 10 years in both the US and UK, the spirits sector has been transformed from one dominated by a handful of large distillers to a market now represented by producers of all shapes and sizes. As such, volumes have also risen 4.3% since 2017.

We’ve taken a look at the tipples piquing consumers’ interest this year.

Keep scrolling to see the five best-performing categories in America’s spirits sector.

5. Gin

Gin continues to go from strength to strength, but this data suggests the category may be starting to peak. Sales of gin grew 1.8% in the 12 months to July 2018, with sales totalling $192.5 million, making it the slowest-growing category in Nielsen’s list. it’s overall market share has actually fallen by 0.05%.

The outlook is more favourable in the UK. According to the latest figures published by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), sales of gin in the UK rose by 28% in volume and by 33% in value to reach £1.5 billion in the year ending 31 March 2018, meaning they have more than doubled in value in five years (from £696m in the year ending March 2013).

Volumes are also rising in the US, up 0.9% this year. British-made gin is proving particularly popular. In terms of value, British gin exports rose by 19% in the first half of 2018 to reach a record £279 million, according to HMRC data published earlier this month, and are predicted to reach £600 million by the end of the year.

4. Vodka

When we look at the performance of vodka and gin together, a pattern emerges. Vodka continues to grow in sales, with a rise of 2.7% in the past year, but both spirits are losing market share to headier counterparts such as whiskey and tequila.

Americans bought roughly $1.77 billion worth of vodka last year, making it the second most-popular spirit across all categories, but its market share has fallen by 0.17%.

3. Whiskey

Dark spirits are on the rise globally, and whiskey has picked up in the US both in terms of sales and volume.

People spent $2.08 billion on the aged elixir last year, up 4.6% since 2016, while its share has also grown by 0.43% to make up almost 35% of the US spirits market.

2. Cognac

Perhaps surprisingly, cognac sales are on the rise in volume, market share and sales. The market for the grape-based spirit may be small — it makes up just 2.5% of purchases in the overall spirits sector — but sales have shot up by more than 5% within the past year. US residents spent $150 million on the French spirit in the 12 months to July; a jump of around $8 million.

On the other hand, brandy on its own is in decline, with just over $4 million less spent on the spirit last year.

1. Tequila

George Clooney and Rande Gerber’s Tequila brand Casamigos sold to Diageo for $1 billion (Photo: Casamigos)

Tequila’s market share may be small compared to the whiskey, vodka et al, but it’s the breakout winner when it comes to rapid growth. Americans spend a further $45 million on the agave spirit this year compared to 2016, giving it a total value of more than $500 million. Volumes have also risen by 9.7%.

Tequila is taking the most market share from vodka and gin than any other spirit, and now makes up 8.3% of all spending in the sector. Major drinks firms have invested heavily in the category in recent years, most notably Diageo, which bought George Clooney’s own tequila brand Casamigos last year in a deal worth $1 billion.

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