NO LETUP TO SLIDE IN SPIRITS

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RICHMOND, Va.-Distilled spirits saw their third straight year of dropping shipments in 1993, and the pace of the decline picked up slightly, according to the Maxwell Consumer Report.

The industry shipped 144 million 9-liter cases last year, down 2.2%. Whiskey shipments shrank 2.4% to 52.7 million cases, accounting for 41% of the overall industry downturn, according to the report, produced by John C. Maxwell Jr., managing director at Wheat, First Securities. In 1992, distilled spirits shipments dipped 1.7%.

Every single segment of whiskey slid last year, with the biggest declines being 5.3% in blended whiskey shipments and 3.7% in scotch. The tiny bonded whiskey segment saw a 4.5% slide.

However, whiskeys were far from alone. The only categories showing growth last year were tequilas (up 5% to 4.6 million cases), cordials (up 1.1% to 16.3 million) and domestic gin (up 0.2% to 11.4 million). But the whole gin category was down 3.7% because of a 33.3% drop in import gin sales to 1 million cases.

Rum sales dropped 1% to 12.4 million cases, brandy sales fell 5.3% to 5.9 million cases and prepacked cocktails sank 10% to 6.3 million cases.

The top selling U.S. distilled spirit, Bacardi rum, saw a 12.5% decrease to 6.1 million cases while No. 2 Smirnoff vodka rose 2% to 5.7 million cases.

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