Whisky is machine fed into bottles at Sheildhall bottling plant in Glasgow March 18, 2008 in Scotland..
Whisky is machine fed into bottles at Sheildhall bottling plant in Glasgow March 18, 2008 in Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The whisky category will return to growth over the coming year and, by 2022, will be worth £2.44 billion, up from £2.31 billion in 2018, forecasts the inaugural Edrington-Beam Suntory UK Whisky Yearbook.

The research shows that whisky as a whole will grow by £138 million in value in the coming three years – 6 percent growth over the period – and by over 200,000 cases.

“Whisky is one of the most diverse and dynamic of the spirits categories. Our forecast is that it is also one that will see growth over the next three years,” said Mark Riley, managing director of Edrington-Beam Suntory UK.

“Bartenders and retailers tell us that whisky is a key focus for them, with plans to invest in broadening their knowledge and range, ensuring they can accommodate the increasing appetite for the spirit from consumers in both on and off-trade.”

The principle drivers of this growth are set to be the Scotch single malt category which Edrington-Beam Suntory UK expects to see grow in value from £394 million in 2018 to £439 million in 2022.

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”, the report notes.

The Yearbook also forecasts that American whiskies will see growth to 2022 – up from £688 million in 2018 to £742 million in 2022.

“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,” Riley said.

Smaller sub-categories are also set to witness substantial growth, according to the forecast.

Irish whiskey will grow by £28.5 million from its sales in 2018 to 2022 and is forecast to be worth £163.9 million. 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).

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 percent growth. Canadian whisky also will grow to become a £9 million category over the next three years.