Two headline hitting events of last 12-months are set to have a significant impact on the spirits category over the next few years.

First up, the first revision in two decades of the UK drinking guidelines last year saw recommendations significantly reduced (to 14 units a week).

"This is notably lower than elsewhere in Europe, highlighting the strong stance the UK is taking on this front," says senior food and drink analyst, Emma Clifford.

"The media attention that this attracted is likely to have brought the potential perils of alcohol consumption – even at a moderate level – to the forefront of consumers' minds once more."

Big Number: 62% of Brits drink dark spirits/liqueurs

As spirits are often seen as the "strongest" of the alcoholic tipples, it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that the category is therefore the most likely to suffer when drinkers look to cut down. Thus, work around developing lower alcohol spirits and educating the market on the ABV of finished mixed drinks is now more vital than ever before.

The second event is Brexit, which is set to push up prices of imported spirits. It is quite possible that some of the big international brands may suffer as drinkers plump for domestic brands, which will be cheaper in comparison.

The opportunity in this market, then, is for the new domestic craft spirits brands that are emerging that are likely to also benefit from stronger export demand.

Back with the big names and Diageo's Captain Morgan rum brand reeled in the pieces of eight over the last 18 months or so – gaining a 50 per cent share of the rum market in the 12 months to May 2016. Spiced rum brand The Kraken posted a similarly monstrous performance, albeit off a very small base.

Indeed, overall the dark spirits and liqueurs market has had a good time of it, with volume and value sales expected to have risen 4% through 2016, while in contrast white spirits are expected to remain broadly flat until 2020.

White spirits remain popular with drinkers nonetheless – 63 per cent of adults drink white spirits and/or RTDs and vodka remains the largest part of this market, despite conversations being dominated by the gin revival.


All statistics Mintel

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Cask Ale

Soft Drinks