2020 was an exceptional year for spirits overall, as the surge in off-trade sales for at-home consumption outweighed the losses in the on-trade. Defying many expectations, 2021 remained a year of growth for the category in total volume terms, even as the effects of the pandemic diminished.
Rising prices were seen throughout the consumer packaged goods space in 2021, as inflationary pressures and supply chain issues rippled throughout the economy. Spirits was no exception to this.
Whiskies grew well in 2021, although only at a similar pace to other years in the recent past. This was not a sign of structural weakness in the whiskies category, rather a sign that a number of temporary issues caused trouble for some categories.
The rise in sales of alcoholic drinks that occurred during the pandemic was in part due to US consumers, bored and stressed at home, turning to alcohol to compensate. With the pandemic petering out, this has led many of these same Americans to re-evaluate their relationship with alcohol.
Agave spirits continue to stand out in spirits in the US. The pandemic only boosted sales of tequila in the US, which grew by double-digits in total volume terms throughout the 2020-2021 period, while also sharply increasing in price as premiumisation continued unabated.
The end of the single malt tariffs does not necessarily mean that Scotch whisky will resume its old place in whiskies in the US. Options in premium whiskies are proliferating and single malt Scotch whisky does not hold the unique sway it once did.
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This is the aggregation of whisk(e)y, brandy and Cognac, white spirits, rum, tequila, liqueurs and other spirits.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Spirits research and analysis database.
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