Forecasts point to rise in sales

‘Trading up’ helps Scotch whisky return to growth

Macallan single malt whisky

Whisky sales are on the rise


A growing taste for single malts will help the whisky category return to growth, according to new research.

By 2022 Scotch will be worth £2.44 billion, up 6% on the £2.31bn value in 2018, with the Scotch single malt category expected to see growth in value from £394m in 2018 to £439m.

The growth will come as a result of new “accessibly priced” single malts in the market and a closing of the price gap between single malts and blends – encouraging more blends drinkers to “trade up”.

At the same time, existing single malt drinkers are showing strong signs of trading up within the category as they explore limited bottlings and premium releases from the biggest names.

The research in the inaugural Edrington-Beam Suntory UK Whisky Yearbook is designed to be a guide to the trends in the UK whisky market.

The research also forecasts that American whiskies will see growth to 2022 – up from £688m in 2018 to £742m in 2022. While there is uncertainty over the current tariffs imposed on US whiskies, the report is optimistic that growth will come from the growing “American premium” brands which are helping to add value to the category.

Mark Riley, managing director of Edrington-Beam Suntory UK, said: “Our forecast is that Scotch single malt and American whiskies will drive future growth, continuing to attract new consumers to the whisky category and successfully appealing to existing customers with new expressions. Both are seeing customers trade-up as they explore the categories, which is supporting the increase in the value and volume of sales.”

Emergent categories in whisky

Further supporting the overall growth of whisky in the coming years will be the smaller sub-categories where growth will be substantial to 2022. 

Irish whiskey will grow by £28.5 million from its sales in 2018 to 2022 and is forecast to be worth £163.9 million. This has been largely driven by the category-leading brand, Jamesons, but the wider easing of supply of Irish whiskey into the UK market will support this growth yet further. 

The growth of single grain whisky, meanwhile, has been one of the success stories of the last five years and growth will continue as the value of sales will almost double to £42.1 million in 2022 (from £21.5 million in 2018). As with Irish whiskey, a clear market leader – Haig Club – has led the increase, but there are now further brands joining the category which will increase the pace of growth.

Growth in sales of Japanese whisky will accelerate over the coming three years as there is greater volume available for export, as supply has been the only major barrier to its growth hitherto. The total value of sales will rise to £11.7 million by 2022 marking 44.4% growth. Canadian whisky also will grow to become a £9.0 million category over the next three years.

Mr Riley said: “Irish and single grain whiskies have been real success stories over the past twelve months – sharing rapid growth on an already strong base of both volume and value in the market. We expect both to play a greater role in shaping the wider market in the coming years.

“The supply challenges that have arguably held back growth in Japanese and Canadian whiskies have eased. While there remains a challenge securing enough liquid from leading brands from both nations to satisfy UK demand, there is far greater supply forecast and we predict we will see growth as a result.”

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