Liquor delivered another year of growth in 2015, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States – or DISCUS. Domestic supplier sales were up 4.1% and volumes up 2.3%. A key driver of growth is demand for American whiskeys – Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye – booming at home and abroad, with 7.8% growth in the category overall.

DISCUS reports that imported whiskeys are also finding favor with Americans: last year revenues generated by Irish Whisky and Single Malt Scotch grew 19.9% and 13.5%, respectively.

Our global trade data confirms the growth in US spirits imports and exports, as well as this product category’s importance to world commerce.

Based on our multinational trade data, which covers the countries responsible for roughly three-quarters of world trade, spirits (4-digit HS code 2208) ranked 124th among trade commodities with total trade of $55.3 billion in 2014 (complete global data for 2015 is not yet available). For comparison, the International Trade Centre reckons 2014 global trade in distilled spirits of $60.1 billion.

How much hard alcohol does America import and export?

Our global trade data ranks the US second among trading nations with total trade in spirits valued at $9.17 billion in 2014. The UK ranked first with $9.43 billion. As an exporter of spirits, the US ranked third with US$1.97 billion FOB value, behind France with exports valued at $4.58 billion, and the UK with $8.33 billion.

The US is far and away the top importer of liquor, with 2014 imports of $7.19 billion (CIF value). Germany is the distant second with imports of $1.72 billion.

We’ve put together some detailed data on US trade in distilled spirits in 2015 – and we want to share it.

Start with the alcohol infographic, above, highlighting trade data-based statistics on US trade of liquor (or spirits) in 2015.

As the data from DISCUS shows, of all hard alcohol purchased in the United States, fully 42% is imported (as of 2012). This is a significantly bigger share for imports than is the case for wine or beer, at 23% imports and 13%, respectively. So, the United States imports a lot of liquor – $7.26 billion in 2015. That’s 3% more than in 2014. In fact, hard alcohol import values have been steadily increasing every year since 2009.

Whiskeys are by far America’s favorite hard alcohol import. The category that includes Whiskeys, Scotch, Rye and Bourbon accounts for almost a third of US hard alcohol imports. In 2015, Whiskey imports totaled $1.99 billion, with Scotch and Irish Whisky accounting for $1.69 billion, other Whiskeys $294 million, and Rye $11 million.

In second place is Vodka, with imports valued at $1.57 billion in 2015. Other top imports include: Brandy and Tequila, with imports valued at $1.17 billion and $1.05 billion, respectively. Take note: grandma’s brandy old-fashioned may be back in fashion as Brandy imports increased 13% by value over 2014.

Not only does the US import a lot of booze, they export boatloads as well. In 2015, American distillers exported $1.96 billion in hard alcohol. Compared with 2014, exports declined a slight 0.04%.

Whiskeys are also the top US liquor export. Within that category, Bourbon is the number one spirit the US exports, with $728 million in shipments abroad in 2015 (as revealed in our free report – see details below). Next ranked by value are the Whiskeys other than Bourbon with $510 million in exports. Brandy follows with $249 million in exports last year.

Infographic Data note: All values are from Datamyne’s US Census dataset and ranked by General FOB (freight on board) US$. The hard alcohol statistics include all spirits under HS Code 2208.

For the fine detail, download our free report Quick Look @ US Import-Export Trade in Spirits 2015.

The report breaks out import and export FOB values in US$ as well as volumes in proof liters for distilled spirits by 10-digit HS code. At this HS code level, you can discern product type and quality. The 2014 report is also available for downloading.


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