Americans Are Still Drinking Luxury Spirits, Inflation Be Damned

A new report suggests U.S. consumers continue to gravitate toward bottles over $50, even in an uncertain economy

Photo of alcohol in a decanter and a cocktail in a coupe glass overlooking a skyline
Consumers are willing to buy more expensive booze, even in this economy
Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty

Drinkers are gravitating toward higher-priced spirits, according to a new report by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), with luxury brands growing 23% in the second quarter of 2022 as compared to the same quarter the previous year.

Luxury brands, as defined by DISCUS, are 750ml bottles with a retail price of $50 or more. It appears that even with some uneven numbers in recent booze reports, people who are drinking are gravitating toward higher-end bottles, inflation be damned. But the current growth numbers do pale in comparison to the same time frame of 2020 to 2021, which saw a whopping 50% growth, as the industry did see a major shift from lockdowns and COVID restrictions to a return to bars…but also an economic downshift.

“We continued to see strong consumer demand for luxury spirits brands through the second quarter of 2022 despite the current economic environment,” said DISCUS Chief of Public Policy Christine LoCascio. “It appears macroeconomic headwinds slowed the astonishing growth rate of luxury spirits sales of 2021 but were not strong enough to reverse the positive premiumization trend. Distilled spirits are affordable luxuries that bring spirits consumers great joy. Consumers are willing to spend extra for that special spirit and choosing to drink better, not more.”

To no one’s surprise, the big winners in the recent luxury spirits report are tequila (+43%) and American whiskey (+30%). Scotch’s growth slightly increased from last year’s numbers (+13% from +10%) while Cognac’s rapid increase slowed but still showed gains (+9% in 2022 Q2 vs. +48% in 2021 Q2).

Astonishingly, over the five years between the second quarter of 2017 and 2022, all spirits categories increased annual growth, ranging from 8 to 45%, with an average growth rate of 24%.


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