Each year at about this time, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) takes over the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan for its annual state of the industry presentation.
DISCUS is a trade association. Its members are most of the major distilled spirits companies that do business in the United States. DISCUS does those things the industry needs to do, and is allowed to do, collectively; such as lobbying and promotion, both here and in foreign markets.
The ‘news’ announced on this occasion is widely reported in the business and general media.
Here at The Chuck Cowdery Blog, we mostly care about the whiskey parts.
In the United States, Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey (BTW) continued to be the best-selling whiskey category, outpacing other domestic whiskeys, as well as imported whiskeys by category.
BTW logged almost 17 million cases in 2012, edging out Canadian whisky at 16 million. The BTW category was up 5.2% from 2011.
Sales of the two higher-priced segments of BTW, representing bottles (750ml) that sell for more than $18 at retail, were about 54% of the total.
It’s a sign of robust good health when most of your sales come from your most profitable lines.
The highest price segment, super-premiums (>$30/bottle), was up 12.4%.
As good as the super-premium BTW segment looks, compare it to single malt scotch, up 13%; and Irish whiskey, up 22.5%.
Exports were another bright spot. The 2012 value of distilled spirits exports set a new record, at $1.5 billion, led by American whiskey (68% of export volume).
The top three export markets are the other three English-speakers; Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The value of US spirits exports to Canada, our best customer, grew 212% last year.
Most of the rest goes to the EU, starting with Germany. Japan comes in sixth, Mexico comes in ninth, but grew by 358% last year.
New trade agreements account for much of the growth.
Finally, the growth of craft distilleries in the US was cited as a trend. The number of distilled spirits plants bottling fewer than 100 thousand gallons annually more than doubled between 2010 and 2012; as did their sales volume, from 700 thousand cases to 1.2 million.
That's about 1/2 of 1% of total US spirits sales.