American whiskey gains more fans overseas

Sales of US spirits are growing at home and internationally. Exports likely saw a third straight year of record growth in 2012.

By Bruce Kennedy Feb 8, 2013 11:42AM

Bottles of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey at a liquor outlet in Montpelier, Vt. ( Toby Talbot/AP Photo)The liquor industry appears to be unaffected by economic turmoil. Many people need a drink when times are bad, and they want to drink when they're prosperous. Fortunately, 2012 was a good year for U.S. distilled spirits -- which made significant progress both at home and overseas.


On Wednesday, the industry's trade association, the Distilled Spirits Council, announced overall U.S. supplier sales grew by a moderate 3% last year -- with supplier revenue up 4.5% as consumers gravitated to higher-end products.


"The premiumization trend continues to captivate consumers here in the U.S. and around the globe," said Peter Cressy, the Council's president and CEO, at its annual briefing.

Worldwide, sales of U.S. spirits have been good. The Council projects 2012 exports will soar to $1.5 billion in a third-straight year of record growth -- boosted by the continued appeal of top-shelf American whiskey to international consumers. Those U.S.-produced whiskeys make up nearly 70% of overall distilled spirits exports -- more than tripling U.S. beer exports and eclipsing wine exports by nearly $250 million.


Officials say policy changes, including recently reached free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia as well as a Permanent Normal Trade Relations accord with Russia, have also helped boost those export numbers. The growing number of middle-class consumers in Eastern Europe and Asia, Cressy says, has their own "cocktail culture," and these emerging markets are supplying American whiskeys with a new fan base.


The biggest U.S. spirits export market remains Canada, with nearly $200 million in sales last year, followed by Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan. But U.S. whiskey and other American-made liquors are making significant inroads in such Asian markets as China, India, Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea -- while showing strong growth in parts of South America and in Eastern European countries like Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and Latvia.


So-called craft distillers continue to grow in popularity, both overseas and domestically, to the point where the big companies are creating their own versions of craft brands.


"Any time you have an industry that is growing and is strong it allows the development of niche players. and that's what we're seeing with craft distillers," said David Ozgo, the council's chief economist, who notes the number of U.S. small-batch distillers -- who produce fewer than 100,000 bottles annually -- doubled between 2010 and 2012.


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Feb 8, 2013 12:00PM
Let's get the Iranians ans North Koreans all jacked up!
Feb 8, 2013 1:42PM
I've got friends in low places, where the whiskey flows like an oasis!  Least they didn't turn to Vodka like our Russian friends. 
Feb 8, 2013 1:34PM
I think that there is a certain cache' with American whiskey products that was created because of our colorful past involving moonshine and the prohibition era.  Mind you I certainly like our whiskey products but there are many Canadian and European whiskeys that have their own particular charm for me as well.  My every day go to is Old Forester though but Four Roses and Old Grandad are equally tasty.  I prefer smooth and mellow because I don't mix them with anything other than a few ice cubes. 
Feb 8, 2013 2:22PM
Is there really any bad whiskey???  I like 'em all.  Bulleit Rye American Whiskey is one the newest I've tryed. If you haven't yet, give it a try, it's realy good, but a little high priced. Comes in a neat old west style cork topped bottle too!
Feb 8, 2013 1:25PM
If you haven't tried the Breckenridge whiskey - it's very, very good.
Feb 8, 2013 1:56PM

That's great, now finally people the world over will now we've got something else that's an AMERICAN ORIGINAL!
The GOOD STUFF is back, as Al Capone used to say, only that was the label he put on an IOWA ICON, the best

Rye Whiskey made during that time, and it's back now after being out of circulation, TEMPLETON RYE which was

featured prominently on the counter in the HOUSE PARTY BAR SHOT in the 1st Part of 3 movies, Atlas Shurgged!


It was the only whiskey that made it to Chicago, hook line or sinker!  And of course the only Alcohol that made it in to

the Famous Rock, Alchatraz!   No, I don't work for the company or am I paid to endorse it, it just tastes good!

We saluted my dad on his final journey home, with my sister making the toast and her reaction was, with a slight

hoarse sound, "SMOOTH"     Enjoy people!


Feb 8, 2013 3:17PM
Push the whisky, ban the guns... Which kills more?
Feb 8, 2013 1:59PM
What pairs well with a nice Whiskey?.......A nice bowl of American Ganja...ya mon!
Feb 8, 2013 4:06PM
Feb 8, 2013 12:43PM
Let's destroy and exterminate all alcoholic beverages, all alcoholics and all Republicans!
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