For the first time in nearly 15 years years, everyone around the globe is drinking less alcohol.
Except for people in the U.S.
According to new research released by Euromonitor International, worldwide consumption of alcoholic beverages declined by 0.7 percent in 2015. It’s the first time the firm has tracked a decrease in global alcohol sales since it began monitoring figures in 2001.
Ukraine recorded the biggest decline worldwide, buying 17 percent less alcohol in 2015 than it did in 2014. China, which represents the world’s largest alcoholic drinks market, saw a decline of 3.5 percent.
But not everyone is buying less booze.
North America is the one notable exception. In 2015, the U.S. bought 30.6 billion liters of alcohol—up from 29.8 billion liters in 2014. Compared to other continents, North America has had a stronger economy. The popularity of microbreweries and the craft beer movement has given alcohol sales a big boost in the states, too, said Euromonitor International’s senior alcoholic drinks analyst Spiros Malandrakis.
Says Malandrakis, “While terms such as authenticity and craftsmanship are losing traction, the trajectories of sophistication, moderation, perceived exotic credentials, accessibility and restrained yet grounded aspirational attributes remain the key driving forces fuelling pockets of buoyancy.”
Across the globe, people are looking for more premium quality, complex spirits—even if they’re drinking less.
Sales of tequila and mezcal grew to about 275 million liters in 2015 from about 263 million liters in 2014, and sales of bourbon and other U.S. whiskey grew to 335 million liters from 322 million liters. Sales of cognac grew to almost 104 million liters from about 99 million liters. Global sales of wine grew to 27.9 billion liters from about 27.4 billion liters.
Whiskey in the U.S. is experiencing one of its biggest growth periods in history. According to state revenue data and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, Kentucky bourbon production increased 44 percent over the past year—filling 1.9 million barrels in 2015, an all-time high over the last 48 years.
So what aren’t people drinking nowadays?
Sales of vodka fell to about 3.2 billion liters in 2015 from about 3.3 billion liters in 2014, and sales of rum fell to 1.36 billion from about 1.38 billion liters. Despite losing market share, vodka is still the world’s most consumed spirit.