What The World Drinks

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China

Total spirits consumption: 496,745,500 cases

Three biggest brands: Chivas Regal (729,250), Hennessy (673,000), Johnnie Walker (544,300).

China, the world's largest spirits market by volume is among the most diverse in terms of brand and spirit type. While the Chinese consume the most and have more or less the same brands available to them that Americans or the British do, much of what the Chinese drink is locally produced Baijiu. This is why the biggest brands don't break the million-case mark.

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Russian Federation

Total spirits consumption: 311,669,250 cases

Three biggest brands: Green Mark Vodka (7,920,000), Putinka Vodka (6,210,000), Pyat Ozer Vodka (6,040,000)

No surprise, the Russians like their vodka. But no vodka the Russians put back is particularly popular in any other countries around the world. This is likely because there are so many different brands available there.

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United States

Total spirits consumption: 178,407,250 cases

Three biggest brands: Smirnoff Vodka (9,307,000), Bacardi Rum (9,096,000), Captain Morgan Rum (5,945,000)

Who says Americans are out of touch with the rest of the world? Americans' favorite spirit, Smirnoff, is also one of the most popular in the world, selling more than 23 million cases in 2007. But Americans guzzle the lion's share, three times more than the British, where Smirnoff also enjoys No. 1 status. Just outside the top three is Absolut, of which Americans drank more than 5 million cases in 2007, and Jack Daniel's, which clocks in at more than 4 million cases.

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South Korea

Total spirits consumption: 144,715,500 cases

Three biggest brands: Jinro Soju (67,827,000), Kyongwal Soju (19,524,000), Kumbokju (12,358,000)

There's nothing South Korean drinkers enjoy more than the spirit soju. The brand Jinro, due mostly to Koreans' love of it, makes it the biggest spirit brand in the world (even the U.S. consumed about 20,000 cases of it last year). They also drink enough of the soju brand Kyongwal, which is not exported, to make that the sixth-biggest brand in the world by volume.

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Japan

Total spirits consumption: 132,936,250 cases

Three biggest brands: Suntory Whisky (4,594,000), Kyogetsu (4,425,000), Jinro Soju (4,125,000)

"For relaxing times, make it Suntory time," Bill Murray begrudgingly utters over and over again as a fictional pitchman for the brand in the movie Lost In Translation. It seems the Japanese were already fond of the whisky brand, in real life, as it's the top spirit in the market. But hot on Suntory's heels in terms of consumption volume are two Korean-made sojus, indicating Japan's taste for imports.

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India

Total spirits consumption: 130,439,000 cases

Three biggest brands: Bagpiper (14,550,000), McDowells Whisky (9,930,000), McDowells Brandy (7,650,000)

Spirits giants have had a tough time breaking into India due to high tariffs, so foreign brands are not easy to find. Instead, Indians have a history of making their own spirits in their former colonists' style, hence the British-sounding names. All of the most popular brands in India are made by UB Group, the third-largest spirits company in the world.

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Brazil

Total spirits consumption: 118,747,500 cases

Three biggest brands: Pirassunuunga 51 (21,336,500), Pitu (9,271,000), Ypioca (5,734,000)

Even if you haven't been to Brazil, concluding that one of the world's largest sugar-cane growers is mad about chachaca (cane rum) isn't much of a stretch. The Brazilians like Pirassununga 51 so much they make it the fourth-biggest brand in the world by volume. But the Brazilians do look beyond the rum, as they also put back about 1.3 million cases of Smirnoff vodka in 2007, as well as one million cases of Johnnie Walker.

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Thailand

Total spirits consumption: 60,847,000 cases

Three biggest brands: Ruang Kao (33,400,000), Hong Tong Liquor (4,600,000), Sang Som Rum (2,975,000)

If you want to eat Thai food, you go around the corner. If you want to drink like the Thai, you need to go to Thailand. Ruang Kao, a rum, is produced in Thailand and consumed only in Thailand, making it the second-biggest spirit in the world by volume. All three of the top brands in Thailand, all rums, are made by Thai Beverage Plc, though the Thai did drink just over 675,000 cases of Johnnie Walker last year.

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Ukraine

Total spirits consumption: 57,979,400 cases

Three biggest brands: Kortytsa Vodka (6,300,000), Olimp Vodka (5,210,000), Nemiroff (4,110,000)

Like the Russians, the Ukranians love their vodka. Of the three biggest brands, Nemiroff is the only one with appeal in other markets, landing toward the bottom of the 25 biggest spirits in the world–but Russia and the Ukraine account for most of that consumption. Smaller south Asian and Eastern European nations such as Khazakstan, Azerbaijan and Poland combine to drink a few hundred thousand cases of Nemiroff.

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Germany

Total spirits consumption: 49,006,250 cases

Three biggest brands: Gold Krone Wilthen (1,500,000), Jaegermeister (1,465,000), Gorbatschow Vodka (1,280,000)

It isn't just college kids who drink Jaegermeister, the difficult-to-pronounce, harder-to-stomach dark liqueur; Germans drink enough to put it just shy of the biggest spirit in their country, behind a low-alcohol, German-made brandy. The Germans are, however, diverse in their tastes, as a vodka comes in third.

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Philippines

Total spirits consumption: 46,694,500 cases

Three biggest brands: San Miguel Gin (16,850,000), Tanduay Rum (10,747,000), Emperador Philippine Brandy (8,640,000)

Like Thailand, Philippines citizens reach for their locally produced spirits. The three biggest brands are produced and consumed entirely in the Philippines, and the locals drink enough of them to put all three on the list of the top 25 biggest by volume in the world (it helps that the country has more than 90 million people).

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France

Total spirits consumption: 38,137,000 cases

Three biggest brands: Ricard (5,265,000), William Peel (1,748,500), Label 5 (1,575,000)

The French prefer their locally made Aniseed, but they also consume a fair amount of Scotch. Still, the two most popular Scotch brands, combined, don't reach the volume of Ricard consumed. True to the French stereotype of going against the grain, none of the world's biggest brands by volume show strong sales there.

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Poland

Total spirits consumption: 33,101,700 cases

Three biggest brands: Absolwent (4,105,000), Starogardzka (2,858,000), Sobieski Vodka (1,636,500)

Like the Russians and the Ukrainians, the Polish prefer their locally produced vodkas above all else. Big brand Nemiroff enjoys only a little popularity here, at 100,000 cases. If it's Polish and it's vodka, they drink it; if not, they don't.

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Spain

Total spirits consumption: 28,971,250 cases

Three biggest brands: J&B (2,114,500), Ballantines (1,570,000), DYC (1,260,000)

You wouldn't guess it, but the Spanish love their whisky, particularly Scotch, which they typically mix with Coke or Pepsi. DYC, close behind the two Scotch brands, is produced in Segovia, and is Spain's first locally made whisky.

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United Kingdom

Total spirits consumption: 28,421,750 cases

Three biggest brands: Smirnoff vodka (3,810,000), Bells (1,260,000), Gordons Gin (1,164,000)

Like Americans, the Brits prefer Smirnoff above all else, and from there are rather diverse when it comes to their spirit choices. Although it has yet to crack the top three, Jack Daniel's has gone from roughly zero to a one million-case brand in the UK in about a decade, making it the No. 2 market for the whisky behind the U.S. (4 million cases). Also over the million-case mark here is Bacardi Rum.

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Mexico

Total spirits consumption: 23,313,000 cases

Three biggest brands: Bacardi Rum (2,037,000), Cuervo Tequila (1,436,450), Sauza (1,212,250)

Quieres una tequila? You're in the right place, but Mexico's biggest brand is Bacardi Rum. If you combine the top two tequila brands, however, they beat out Bacardi, which, despite being the biggest brand by volume, is only a small percentage of the overall market. While the Mexicans drank more than 300,000 cases of Absolut vodka, it's safe to assume that their preferred spirit overall is tequila, with smaller brands accounting for most of the consumption.

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Romania

Total spirits consumption: 22,078,000 cases

Three biggest brands: Tarie de Bihor (505,000), Stalinskaia Vodka (450,000), Alexandrion Romanian Brandy (425,000)

Like the Chinese, the Romanians drink a fair bit without much in the way of big-brand loyalty. Their per capita consumption comes out to roughly one case per person (the country's population is 22 million), which suggests the Romanians, on average, drink a considerable amount of spirits you've likely never heard of.

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Italy

Total spirits consumption: 17,008,500 cases

Three biggest brands: Aperol (785,000), Molinari (590,000), Montenegro (540,000)

When in Rome, do as the Romans do: Drink local aperitifs. Among the top 25 spirits brands in the world by volume, none enjoy major popularity in Italy. Italians prefer their locally made aperitifs, though none dominates the 17 million-case market. None of the brands show much of a presence outside of the country, either.

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Canada

Total spirits consumption: 16,737,050 cases

Three biggest brands: Smirnoff vodka (1,502,250), Bacardi Rum (1,173,500), Captain Morgan (753,650)

Canadians love to say that they're not Americans

3 thoughts on “What The World Drinks

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    June 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm

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