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.