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Issue 78 - spy

Whisky Magazine Issue 78
February 2009


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We bring you the news,show reviews and Dave's look at the whisky world.

Bantering semantics
Numbers don't lie. While the conventional wisdom among those in the liquor industry has long been that the spirits market is recession proof, data recently released by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, reveals that the liquor industry has begun to feel the impact of the recession.

During a recent briefing in Manhattan, Peter Cressy, the trade group's CEO, greeted everyone with a musing on semantics. “The industry is recession- resilient or resistant, choose whichever word you'd like, but it's absolutely not recession proof,” he said, indicating that the fourth quarter, which is important because of holiday purchasing, showed softening.

Revenue for the industry was up 2.8 per cent to $18.7 billion while volume rose 1.6 per cent to 184 million 9-litre cases.

As stand-alone figures, those numbers may be heartening in light of the global economy's skid, but it's a significantly slower pace than the six per cent annual growth rate seen each year since 2001.

The breakdown of the data by category tells a far more detailed story, one in which whisky plays a starring role.

Premiumisation continued, albeit a bit more sluggishly than in years past. Whiskies, however, outpaced other categories, with gross revenues of super premium bourbons and Tennessee whiskey up 18.8 per cent (compared to the value brands, which were only up 2.7 per cent) and super-premium Irish whiskey up an impressive 38.5 per cent.

Super-premium single malts, though, o...

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