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US Dark Spirits market report

"Distilled spirits (both white and dark) have enjoyed a significant (23.9%) growth since 2011, due in no small part to the rapid influx of flavors in the white spirit segment and a surge in interest in tequila. Similar flavor innovation is leading to growth in dark spirits, whiskey and brandy in particular, as Millennial consumers appear significantly interested in novel flavors within the category. Curiously, at the same time, authenticity and complexity appear to be key to consumer interest in craft forms of dark spirits."

Billy Roberts, Senior Analyst – Food and Drink

This report looks at the following areas:

  • Sales growth expected to continue through 2021
  • On-premise consumption has room to grow
  • Price appears insufficient means of differentiation

This Report includes dark spirits sold for home preparation and/or consumption. The following types of dark spirits are analyzed:

  • Whiskey/whisky, which includes the following subsegments: American Kentucky bourbon, American Tennessee whiskey, other American whiskeys (straight, blended, malt, or non-malt), American rye whiskey, Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, Canadian whisky, White whiskey/moonshine, flavored whiskey.
  • Brandy and Cognac, as well as Armagnac.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Sales growth expected to continue through 2021
            • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of dark and white distilled spirits, at current prices, 2011-21
          • On-premise consumption has room to grow
            • Figure 2: US volume sales of dark and white distilled spirits, off premise vs. on premise, 2011-16
          • Price appears insufficient means of differentiation
            • Figure 3: Spirits value, August 2016
          • The opportunities
            • Flavor and complexity could fuel dark spirits
              • Figure 4: Important dark spirits characteristics, August 2016
            • Older Millennial interest in variety of dark spirit flavors
              • Figure 5: Dark spirits flavors, by Millennial generation, August 2016
            • Craft definition varies
              • Figure 6: Craft spirits defined, August 2016
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Distilled spirit growth to continue
                • Whiskey leads dark spirit consumption
                  • Potential for on-premise to grow
                  • Market Size and Forecast

                    • Historic and projected sales performance
                      • Figure 7: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of dark and white distilled spirits, at current prices, 2011-21
                      • Figure 8: Total US sales and forecast of on and off-premise dark and white distilled Spirits, at current prices, 2011-21
                  • Market Breakdown

                    • Volume growth to continue, though slower
                      • Figure 9: Total US volume sales and fan chart forecast of dark spirits, in nine-liter cases, 2011-21
                      • Figure 10: Sales of dark spirits, by volume, 2011-21
                    • Whiskey leads segments, with brandy/Cognac growing
                      • Figure 11: Volume Sales of dark spirits, by segment, 2011-21
                    • Whiskey segments continue to grow
                      • Figure 12: Sales of whiskey, by segment, 2011-16
                    • Strong growth for brandy, Cognac, Armagnac to slow
                      • Figure 13: US volume sales of brandy/Cognac/Armagnac, 2011-21
                  • Market Perspective

                    • Majority of white spirits drinkers also drink dark spirits
                      • Figure 14: White spirits consumption, by dark spirits consumption, August 2016
                    • On-premise consumption has room to grow
                      • Figure 15: US volume sales of dark and white distilled spirits, off premise vs. on premise, 2011-16
                  • Market Factors

                    • On-premise offerings may influence off-premise selections
                      • Figure 16: Away-from-home new drink trial motivators, by gender, February 2016
                    • Millennial, iGeneration populations have positive growth
                      • Figure 17: Population by generation, percentage change, 2011-21
                    • Hispanic, Asian populations expect to see growth
                      • Figure 18: Population by race and Hispanic origin, 2011-21
                    • Overlap between Millennials, acculturated Hispanics, and parents
                      • Millennials as parents
                        • Figure 19: Households with own children, by age of householder, 2013
                      • Hispanics as parents
                        • Figure 20: Households with own children, by Hispanic origin of householder, 2013
                      • Hispanic Millennials
                        • Figure 21: Generations, by Hispanic origin, 2016
                    • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                      • Premium offerings impacting leading whiskey brands
                        • Flavor fueling dark rums
                          • Niche attributes benefit brandies
                            • Leveraging production methods to communicate authenticity
                            • Leading Companies and Brands – Whiskey/Whisky

                              • Jack Daniel’s holds steady, as Maker’s Mark rises
                                • Figure 22: Bourbon, blended whiskey/rye consumption in the last 30 days, by brands, trended 2012-16
                              • Flavor options from Crown Royal
                                • Figure 23: Irish whiskey/Scotch whisky/ Canadian whiskey consumption in the last 30 days, by brands, trended 2012-16
                            • Leading Companies and Brands – Dark Rum

                              • Captain leads dark rum, but growth appears stagnant
                                • Figure 24: Dark rum consumption in the last 30 days, by brands, trended 2012-16
                                • Figure 25: Captain Morgain Jack-O’Blast Pumpkin Spiced Rum
                            • Leading Companies and Brands – Brandy

                              • Brandy options leverage premium positioning and added flavors
                                • Figure 26: Brandy consumption in the last 30 days, by brands, trended 2012-16
                            • What’s Working?

                              • Hitting the Maker’s Mark
                                • Small batch
                                  • Figure 27: Maker’s Mark bourbon whiskey
                              • What’s Struggling?

                                • Christian Brothers attempts to counter loss with more flavor
                                  • Figure 28: Christian Brothers Apple Brandy
                                • Lack of category focus impacts Seagram’s
                                  • Figure 29: Seagram’s Hard Soda
                              • What’s Next?

                                • Novel flavors separating dark spirits from the pack
                                  • Figure 30: Rebel Yell Root Beer Whiskey
                                • Leveraging production methods
                                  • Figure 31: Dark spirit launches leveraging production methods
                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                • Rum consumption trails other dark spirits
                                  • Age related to dark spirit consumption
                                    • Rum consumption could leverage on-premise behaviors
                                      • Age related to brandy consumption
                                        • Dark spirit consumption trails white
                                          • Flavor key to dark spirit selection
                                            • If interested in a flavored dark spirit, consumers seek spiced and fruit options
                                              • Experience influencing Older Millennial consumption
                                                • Price and dark spirits
                                                  • Craft opinion differs by age
                                                  • Dark Spirit Consumption

                                                    • Whiskey/whisky consumption leads category
                                                      • Figure 32: Dark spirits consumption - Any consumption, August 2016
                                                    • Consumers drink multiple types of Dark spirits
                                                      • Figure 33: Dark spirits consumption, by dark spirits consumption, August 2016
                                                    • Income strongly related to dark spirit consumption
                                                      • Figure 34: Dark spirits consumption, any consumption, by household income, August 2016
                                                    • Older Millennials drink wide variety of dark spirits
                                                      • Figure 35: Dark spirits repertoire, August 2016
                                                  • Whiskey/Whisky Consumer

                                                    • American Tennessee whiskey leading whiskey/whisky type
                                                        • Figure 36: Dark spirits consumption – Whiskey/whisky, August 2016
                                                      • Whiskey/whisky with soda leading drink form
                                                        • Figure 37: Whiskey/whisky drink form, August 2016
                                                        • Figure 38: Whiskey/whisky drink form, by Millennial generations, August 2016
                                                    • Dark Rum Consumer

                                                        • Spiced rum most popular dark rum type
                                                            • Figure 39: Dark spirits consumption – Dark rum, August 2016
                                                          • Soda and dark rum leading drink form
                                                            • Figure 40: Dark rum drink form, August 2016
                                                          • Older Millennials drink the greater variety of dark rum drink forms
                                                              • Figure 41: Dark rum drink form, by Millennial generations, August 2016
                                                          • Brandy Consumer

                                                            • Cognac leading brandy type
                                                              • Figure 42: Dark spirits consumption – Brandy, August 2016
                                                            • Older Millennials drink brandy with a mixer, in a cocktail
                                                                • Figure 43: Brandy drink form, by Millennial generations, August 2016
                                                            • Dark versus White Spirits Consumption

                                                              • Majority drink more white spirits than dark
                                                                • Figure 44: Dark versus white spirits consumption, August 2016
                                                              • Non-fathers drink more dark spirits than white
                                                                • Figure 45: Dark versus white spirits consumption - More dark spirits than white spirits, by demographics, August 2016
                                                            • Important Dark Spirits Characteristics

                                                              • Flavor leading attribute important in dark spirits selection
                                                                • Figure 46: Important dark spirits characteristics, August 2016
                                                              • Lower importance in whiskey/whisky mash type, blend, malt
                                                                • Figure 47: Important dark spirits characteristics – Whiskey/whisky, August 2016
                                                              • Fathers have greater awareness of dark spirits attributes
                                                                • Figure 48: Important dark spirits characteristics, by gender and parental status with children under 18 in the household, August 2016
                                                            • Dark Spirits Flavors

                                                              • Drinkers prefer spiced, fruit, unflavored dark spirits
                                                                • Figure 49: Dark spirits flavors, August 2016
                                                              • Baby Boomers drive preferences for unflavored dark spirits
                                                                • Figure 50: Dark spirits flavors – None of the above, I prefer unflavored, by generation, August 2016
                                                              • Older Millennials interest in variety of dark spirits flavors
                                                                • Figure 51: Dark spirits flavors, by Millennial generation, August 2016
                                                              • Fathers stand out for fruit preferences, mothers prefer sweetened, vanilla
                                                                • Figure 52: Dark spirits flavors, by gender and parental status with child(ren) under 18 in the household, August 2016
                                                            • Spirits Behaviors

                                                              • Socialization, relaxation leading reasons to drink dark spirits
                                                                • Figure 53: Spirits behaviors, by dark versus white spirits consumption, August 2016
                                                              • Older Millennials looking for new experiences
                                                                • Figure 54: Spirits behaviors, by Millennial generations, August 2016
                                                              • Parents less likely to drink for socialization, relaxation than non-parents
                                                                • Figure 55: Spirits behaviors, by gender and parental status with child(ren) under 18 in the household, August 2016
                                                            • Spirits’ Value Defined

                                                              • Consumers define value, mid-range, premium, and super-premium prices
                                                                • Figure 56: Spirits value, August 2016
                                                              • Millennials drive up price points
                                                                • Figure 57: Spirits value, by white versus dark spirits consumption - Mostly/only white spirits drinkers, August 2016
                                                              • Preferred spirits pricing varies with age
                                                                • Figure 58: Spirits behaviors – Price point preferences, by generation, August 2016
                                                              • Mid-range, premium priced spirits preferred
                                                                • Figure 59: Spirits behaviors, by white versus dark spirits consumption, August 2016
                                                            • Craft Spirits Defined

                                                              • Craft definition differs with age
                                                                • Non-Millennials define craft as being made in small batches
                                                                  • Older Millennials driven by premium ingredients
                                                                    • Younger Millennials look for unique qualities
                                                                      • Figure 60: Craft spirits defined, August 2016
                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                    • Data sources
                                                                      • Sales data
                                                                        • Fan chart forecast
                                                                          • Consumer survey data
                                                                            • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                              • Abbreviations
                                                                                • Terms
                                                                                • Appendix – Market

                                                                                    • Figure 61: Total US sales and forecast of on and off-premise dark and white distilled spirits, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2011-21
                                                                                    • Figure 62: US volume sales of dark spirits, by segment, 2014 and 2016
                                                                                    • Figure 63: Total US volume sales of whiskey/whisky, 2011-21

                                                                                Companies Covered

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