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Take a close look at the top 20 locations worldwide for consumption of distilled spirits and you’ll observe that half of the list is composed of US states. Remarkably, however, the US ranks only 48th of 185 countries for per capita consumption of all alcoholic beverages, according to the World Health Organization. In the ranking by consumption of spirits per capita, the US jumps to 23rd worldwide.

  • Americans consumed a total of about 530 million gallons (2 billion liters) of spirits in 2015. That's about 3 liters of pure alcohol per year, 6 liters of spirits with 50% alcohol content by volume, or about 3 shot glasses per person per week.
  • Drinking patterns vary widely across the US states. In some states, namely, New Hampshire and Delaware, the average adult consumes more than 12 liters of spirits per year (6 liters of pure alcohol, or 5 shot glasses per week), which is roughly equivalent to someone in Belarus, the top-ranked country by consumption of distilled spirits.
  • Almost 70 percent of all distilled spirits consumed in the US in 2015 were produced domestically, with vodka and whiskey combined representing nearly 55 percent of total US spirits production. Production aside, beer made up roughly half of all alcohol consumed in the US.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) estimates that overall sales of distilled spirits in the US reached about $24 billion in 2015, up by 4.1 percent from 2014. In today's Viz, we provide easy access to data about consumption, production, and sales of distilled spirits in the United States so that you can track trends in specific types of spirits. For example, of the varieties of whiskey, high-end premium bourbon, premium blended whiskey, and Canadian whiskey were the most popular in 2015 based on sales volume, according to DISCUS. Based on growth trends, however, premium single malt Scotch whiskey, super premium Irish whiskey, and super premium bourbon seem to be gaining favor.

 

Useful definitions used by the distilled spirits industry:

     Apparent Consumption: Distilled spirits that enter the market (versus how much people drank, spilled, poured out, or saved for a rainy day).

     Wine Gallon: A distilled spirit unit of measure. One wine gallon equals 3.79 liters.

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