Drinkers raise a glass to posh booze as premium spirits and wine sales soar worldwide

Francesca Washtell
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Betsey Johnson Spring 2007 - Backstage
The global premium drinks market grew by five per cent in 2015 (Source: Getty)

Posh booze has become the order of the day for the world's drinkers, who are clearly after quality not quantity when it comes to their tipples.

Worldwide, the premium-and-above spirits market grew five per cent in 2015, equivalent to 6.7m nine-litre cases on the 2014 total, according to the alcohol analysis firm IWSR's 2016 database.

The most popular premium spirits last year were whisky, tequila and cocktail stalwarts gin, rum and vodka.

ISWR's data mirrors the major trend for artisan drinks in the UK market, where boutique distilleries have sparked a movement dubbed the "gin-aissance".

Read more: British gin sales broke all records in 2015

In contrast, the total spirits market grew by just 0.5 per cent over the year (14.1m nine-litre cases). Excluding the major East Asian beverages of soju (South Korea) and baijiu (China), the non-premium market actually declined 0.5 per cent, with brandy and vodka taking falls of 3.7 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively.

Picky drinkers

Discerning drinkers pushed the UK into being the second-highest growth market for posh booze. The premium segment grew by 11.6 per cent in the UK, behind only the US, while the luxurious super-premium market grew a whopping 19 per cent in 2015.

However, premium spirits aren't the only drinks getting a look-in.

Although the global overall wine market declined by 0.1 per cent, premium still light wine saw the largest growth of any single category (4.7 per cent) and premium sparkling wine had the third-largest growth behind premium whisky.

Read more: This £5 supermarket Malbec has been named the world's best red wine

In the UK, which is a mature market, premium still light wine sales still grew by more than 600,000 cases (2.8 per cent).

A bad time to be beer

Beer consumption declined by 0.6 per cent in 2015, following a levelling-off of volumes in 2014. The largest declines were in China, Ukraine and Brazil, although Mexico and Vietnam registered growth of more than six per cent.

Cider continued its strong upward trend as new markets were established and innovation and new flavour mixes helped drive 3.1 per cent growth in mature markets. This will be good news for Diageo, whose major European brand Smirnoff announced yesterday it would be expanding into the cider segment with two hybrid vodka offerings this summer.

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