Whisky sales set to hit £2.4bn in three years despite decline in 2018

The value of whisky sales in the UK is expected to grow to £2.4 billion within the next three years, according to new figures.

As a whole, the category declined in both value and volume last year, but a rise in distilleries and a growing number of consumers looking to “trade up” to more expensive and premium products will lead to strong growth to 2022.

Single malt Scotch, as well as American and Irish whiskey, are predicted to be the main drivers of growth, according to a new report published by drinks giant Edrington-Beam Suntory on Wednesday.

The Whisky Yearbook claims that single malt Scotch category is set to grow in value from £394 million in 2018 to £439 million in 2022, while American whiskies are set to grow from £688 million to £742 million in the same period.

“Scotch single malt and American whiskies will drive future growth, continuing to attract new consumers to the whisky category and successfully appealing to existing customers with new expressions,” Mark Riley, managing director of Edrington-Beam Suntory UK, said.

“Both are seeing customers trade-up as they explore the categories, which is supporting the increase in the value and volume of sales.”

Irish whiskey sales are also predicted to rise by more than 21% to be worth around £163.9 million in three years.

Sales of whisky across the category fell by 1.4% between 2017 and 2018, with the total value reaching £2.31 billion last year. Volumes, meanwhile, fell by 3.1%. However, the report said that this decline came as a result of “major structural shifts in the market.”

“Scotch blends have been in long-term decline,” it said, citing a combination of closures in the on-trade and cutbacks by retailers who have concentrated their focus on core and premium ranges.

“This has been prompted – and is now being compounded – by a declining consumer base.”

The report predicts that sales of whisky this year will “return to the £2.35 billion we saw in 2017”, representing 1.9% year-on-year growth in “one of the most established and mature spirits categories, and reflects the dynamism and progressive approach that remains alive and well” within the industry.

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