The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) released their annual economic briefing, which shows that the spirits industry saw strong growth in 2021, with supplier sales in the United States up 12 percent to a total of $35.8 billion. Volume sales also rose 9.3 percent, to 291.1 million 9-liter cases.

Overall, the spirits market gained share in the US beverage alcohol market in 2021, rising 1.7 percent in sales and totaling 41.3 percent of the entire market— making last year the 12th year in a row with market share gains for spirits.

“Consumers savoring spirits at home and trading up to higher-end brands, combined with the gradual reopening of bars and restaurants, resulted in record sales for the spirits sector,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of DISCUS. “We’re also seeing strong growth for spirits-based ready-to-drink products, and that’s adding to our sector’s gains as well.”

The report also listed trends that helped with the acceleration of the market, and the spirits sectors that benefited the most. The largest spirits categories were vodka and tequila with $7.3 billion and $5.2 billion in revenue, respectively. The sectors that saw the largest amount of growth were tequila and mezcal, and cordials, which grew 30.1 percent and 15.2 percent, respectively.

While DISCUS noted several trends that aided the sector’s growth, such as ready-to-drink cocktails, the report emphasized the premiumization of spirits brands as the leading factor.

“Nearly 82 percent of the spirits sector’s total revenue increase was from the sale of high-end and super-premium spirits brands,” said Christine LoCascio, DISCUS chief of public policy. “Purchasing luxury spirits to create craft cocktails was a simple pleasure for spirits consumers who hunkered down at home and curtailed spending on vacations and dining out for a second year in a row.”

LoCasio also pointed out that tequila was the main driver of growth for the entire spirits industry, accounting for one third of the total increase in revenue.

The top 5 spirits categories by revenue:

  • Vodka sales up 4.9 percent or $341 million to $7.3 billion
  • Tequila/Mezcal up 30.1 percent or $1.2 billion to $5.2 billion
  • American Whiskey up 6.7 percent or $288 million to $4.6 billion
  • Brandy & Cognac up 13.1 percent or $403 million to $3.5 billion
  • Cordials up 15.2 percent or $376 million to $2.9 billion

Top five fastest growing spirits categories by revenue:

  • Premixed cocktails, including spirits-based RTDs up 42.3 percent or $489 million to $1.6 billion
  • Tequila/Mezcal up 30.1 percent or $1.2 billion to $5.2 billion
  • Irish Whiskey up 16.3 percent or $185 million to $1.3 billion
  • Cordials up 15.2 percent or $376 million to $2.9 billion
  • Single Malt Scotch up 14.4 percent or $130 million to $1 billion