What you need to know

Total retail sales of distilled spirits – white and dark – posted 2.7% gains in estimated 2015, reaching approximately $55.4 billion in dollar sales. Growth has been small but consistent year-over-year from 2011 to 2015 (est). Overall sales are expected to continue gradually upward at a similar pace, as dark spirits add some growth through trending consumer interest – particularly the straight and Irish whiskey and brandy segments – while white spirits see small but positive growth. Opportunities exist for each dark spirits segment – whiskey/whisky, dark/golden/spiced rums, and brandies – through innovation, particularly with greater flavor complexity and variation.


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:

  • Canadian whisky

  • Straight American whiskey, including bourbon and unaged white whiskey (also known as moonshine; the report covers legally sold, unaged white whiskey marketed as moonshine, not the illegally made varieties often associated with the term in various regions of the US)

  • Scotch whisky

  • Blended American whiskey

  • Irish whiskey

  • Dark/black, golden/amber, and spiced rum

  • Brandy, which includes Cognac and Armagnac

Market size and forecast data includes both white/light and dark rums. The forecast data displayed in Figures 7-9 are the same as the forecast data displayed in the “Market Size and Forecast” section in Mintel’s report White Spirits – US, October 2015.

Mintel consumer data focuses on consumer attitudes and behaviors toward dark rum only. Attitudes and behaviors toward white/light spirits are included in Mintel’s report White Spirits – US, October 2015.

This report excludes the following categories, which are covered in Mintel’s report White Spirits – US, October 2015:

  • Vodka

  • White/light rum

  • Tequila

  • Gin.

RTD (ready-to-drink) premade alcoholic beverages, including wine coolers, flavored malt beverages, and RTD premixed cocktails, are covered in the Mintel report Alcoholic Beverage RTDs – US, December 2015.

Dollar sales data in this report include all distilled spirits segments (dark and white), while volume sales data solely covers dark spirits. This includes only the whiskey/whisky and brandy segments. Total rum is included in the volume sales data for white spirits in Mintel’s report White Spirits – US, October 2015, as subsegments (white/light, dark/black, golden/amber, spiced) could not be separated.

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