Scotch Whisky

ScotchThe earliest recorded distilling of Scotch whisky was in 1494, by a monk named Friar John Cor, but the drink back then was not like the Scotch of today. It was considerably more potent and in some cases dangerous to drink. The quality improved in the 16th and 17th centuries as scientific knowledge and distilling equipment improved. Early on the distilling of Scotch took place in monasteries. After the monks were forced to leave, they employed their skills in the wider society and knowledge of the distilling process spread.

Initially, Scotch was consumed for medicinal purposes but later became popular as a social drink. As Scotch became more popular taxes began being imposed, first by the Scottish Parliament and then as a result of The Act of Union with England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. After that, smuggling became standard practice until the 1830s. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, “by the 1820s, despite the fact that 14,000 illicit stills were being confiscated every year, more than half of the whisky consumed in Scotland was being enjoyed without payment of duty.” After the Excise Act was passed in 1823, which made the distilling of whisky legal in exchange for a license fee and a set payment per gallon, smuggling almost completely disappeared.

With the invention of the Patent Still in 1831, grain whisky was invented. Grain whisky was mixed with malt whisky to create a milder form of Scotch that appealed to more people. There are five categories of Scotch: single malt, single grain, blended malt, blended grain, and blended Scotch whisky. Since November 2009, in order for whisky to be called Scotch, it must be made in Scotland and adhere to the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009, which define and regulate the production, labeling, packaging, and advertising. In 2015, Heather Nelson became the first woman to head a Scotch whisky distillery by herself.

Today’s market size shows the export value of Scotch in 2017, which equated to 1.23 billion 70cl bottles. Scotland exports this beverage to more than 200 countries around the world. In terms of volume, the top three countries that received these exports were France, the United States of America, and India.

Geographic reference: Scotland
Year: 2017
Market size: £4.36 billion
Sources: “2017 Export Figures,” Scotch Whisky Association, February 9, 2018 available online here; “History of Scotch Whisky,” Scotch Whisky Association, May 31, 2012 available online here; “Scotch Whisky,” Wikipedia, February 21, 2018 available online here; Matthew Vickery, “Woman Challenges Notion Scotch is a Man’s Drink,” Lansing State Journal, January 26, 2018, page B1.
Image source: Adapted from: stevepb, “scotch-whisky-drink-alcohol-glass-729638,” Pixabay, April 20, 2015 available online here.

Craft Beer in Michigan

From 2012 to 2016, the number of craft breweries in the United States more than doubled from 2,420 to 5,234. In 2016, sales of craft beer made up 22%—$23.5 billion—of the overall beer market.

Today’s market size shows the number of craft breweries in Michigan and the number of gallons of beer they produced in 2016.

Geographic reference: Michigan
Year: 2016
Market size: 205 craft breweries produced 769,897 gallons of craft beer
Sources: Dillon Davis, “Standing Tall,” Lansing State Journal, April 23, 2017, page 3P; “Number of Breweries,” 2017 available online here.
Original source: Brewers Association
Image source: Tookapic, “Beer-glass-drink-beverage-alcohol-932320,” Pixabay, September 28, 2015 available online here.

Wineries in Michigan

Michigan ranks fifth in the United States in wine production. Most wine grapes are grown in Van Buren, Berrien, Leelanau, and Grand Traverse counties, all within 25 miles of the Lake Michigan coast. The top 3 wines produced are Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Because several other types of fruit are grown in the state, many wineries make wine from fruit other than grapes, such as with cherries or apples.

Geographic reference: Michigan
Year: 2017
Market size: 127 wineries producing 2.4 million gallons of wine annually
Source: Bob Gross, “Wine and Spirits Industries Booming,” Lansing State Journal, April 23, 2017, page 7P.
Original source: Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council

American Craft Beer Market in Belgium

Belgians who drink beer love their locally-made beer. In years past, many Belgians considered American beer inferior, but this attitude may be changing. American craft beers are now appearing in Belgian supermarkets and in bars. A craft beer brewed by Seattle’s Schooner EXACT brewery won the top award at the Brussels Beer Challenge in 2015. American beers also won several other gold medals, 5 more than Belgian beers did, that same year.

Today’s market size shows the amount of craft beer exported to Belgium by American brewers in 2015. In comparison, the United States imported 50 million gallons of Belgian beer that year.

Geographic reference: Belgium
Year: 2015
Market size: 160,000 gallons
Source: Thompson, Linda A., “U.S. Suds No Longer Duds,” Lansing State Journal, August 7, 2016, page 4B.


Sake is an alcoholic beverage, made with rice, that originated in Japan. It is often referred to as rice wine but is actually closer to a beer than a wine based on the way that it is brewed. In the production of wine, the natural sugars in the fruits from which it is made are fermented. In making sake, the sugars that are fermented to produce the alcohol must first be converted from the starches in rice. It is a process very similar to the one used to brew beer.

Today’s market size is the value of Japanese sake exports to the world in 2002, 2012 and the industry’s declared goal for exports by 2020. In 2012, one-third of the sake exported from Japan was imported by the United States.

Geographic reference: Japan
Year: 2002, 2012, and a forecast for 2020
Market size: ¥7.5 billion, ¥8.9 billion and ¥60 billion respectively. In dollar terms, based on average exchange rates each year and using 2013’s exchange rate for the 2020 forecast, those values are $60 million, $112 million, and $616 million.
Source: Eric Peanner and Zhiyi Yang, “In Sake, Japan Sees A Potential Stimulus,” The New York Times, February 22, 2014, pages B1-B2. The average exchange rate data used to convert the Yen to Dollars was obtained at this OzForx Group Limited website.
Original source: National Tax Agency of Japan
Posted on March 11, 2014


The last decade has been one of unexpected growth for whiskey distillers in the United States and in particular for those producing bourbon. Bourbon is made in the United States only—in the same way that Scotch Whiskey must be made in Scotland—and is a type of whiskey made from a grain mash consisting of at least 51% corn mash. The distinctions that define types of whiskey are the primary grain used in the mash with which the whiskey is distilled, the length of time it is aged in a barrel, and the place in which it is made.

Bourbon whiskey was a very fashionable and popular drink in the United States after prohibition and through the 1950s. The drink went out of fashion in the 1960s and spent the next several decades in decline. But that has all changed since the turn of the century. Bourbon is once again a fashionable drink, demand for which is rising so quickly that distillers are having a hard time keeping pace. After all, a high-quality bourbon must spend years in a barrel to age making quick adjustments to inventory problematic.

Today’s market size is the value of bourbon exports from the United States in 2002 and 2013.

Geographic reference: U.S. exports
Year: 2002 and 2013
Market size: $376 million and $1 billion respectively
Source: Clay Risen, “The Billion-Dollar Bourbon Boom — How Did American Bourbon Get So Damn Hot?” Fortune, February 24, 2014, pages 56-65.
Original source: Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
Posted on March 4, 2014

Craft Cider


Sales in the United States of hard cider tripled between 2007 and 2012. Hard cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made with fruit juice, usually apple but some ciders are made with other fruit juices, primarily peach and pear. When the term cider is used alone, it may refer to hard cider or to a nonalcoholic apple cider.

Although the hard cider market is still a small fraction of the $10.2 billion craft beer market (2012) it is growing quickly. Cider sales in multi-outlets and convenience stores during the year ended March 24, 2013, totaled $122.5 million for the top 20 cider brands. That’s an increase of 97 percent compared to a year earlier. Capitalizing on the craft cider trend, small and large craft beer manufacturers are creating their own hard cider blends to entice drinkers with new taste offerings. To spark interest in the mainstream beer drinker MillerCoors offers several hybrid beers.

Today’s market size is total sales of hard cider in the United States in 2012.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2012
Market size: $600 million
Source: Chris Furman, “Craft Cider Gaining Momentum,” Brewhound, June 3, 2013, available online here. The photo is from a web site offering images free of copyright, here.
Posted on January 24, 2014

Non-Alcoholic Beer

The volume of non-alcoholic beer consumed worldwide is on the rise. According to The Economist (full citation below), the volume of non-alcoholic beer consumption globally was 80% higher in 2012 than it had been in 2007. Part of this rise is the result of increased consumption of this beverage in the Middle East. Increasing penalties for drunk driving in several European countries has also been seen by industry analysts as a contributor to the rise in demand for non-alcoholic beer.

Today’s market size is the volume of non-alcoholic beer sales globally in 2012.

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2012
Market size: 2.2 billion liters (by way of comparison, world consumption of beer annually is in the range of 148 billion liters)
Source: E.H. “Why Are Sales of Non-alcoholic Beer Booming?” The Economist, August 11, 2013, available online here.
Posted on September 17, 2013


By definition, champagne is a product of France. In order to be called champagne, a sparkling wine must be made with grapes from the Champagne region of France and must meet an additional set of requirements imposed by the Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne (CIVIC). The United Kingdom is the largest importer of champagne, followed by the United States and then Germany. U.S. imports of champagne started off the first decade of the new century averaging 18 million bottles annually, it peaked at 23.2 million bottles in 2006 and fell thereafter for three consecutive years. In 2010, champagne imports to the United States saw a small increase from prior year imports.

Today’s market size is the estimated total number of bottles of champagne exported by France in 2011.

Geographic reference: Worldwide
Year: 2011
Market size: 335 million bottles
Source: Tiffany Hsu, “Champagne Sales Surged in 2011, Booze Headed for 2012 Boost,” January 1, 2012, Los Angeles Times, available online here.
Original source: Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne and the Champagne Bureau
Posted on December 27, 2012

Hop Stocks

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Agency (NASS) produces annual reports on individual commodities. One of the commodities they track is hops, an aromatic flower used most commonly in the brewing of beer.

The market size presented today is the size of the stock of hops held by hops dealers, hops growers and beer brewers as of March 1, 2011. The graph is a presentation of hops stocks in the United States over a 20-year period and shows how recent stockpiles are at record highs. High stockpiles are a sign of a sluggish market and pressure on pricing, something that has not been seen in most agricultural commodity markets in the last few years.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 2011
Market size: 109 million pounds
Source: “Hop Stocks,” March 2011, an annual report which is available online here. Unlike most graphs we present on this blog, we did not produce this one. It comes directly from the USDA report.
Original Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, NASS
Posted on August 1, 2011


In the Upper Midwest of the United States this time of year, our love of hot drinks is particularly noticeable, as it is, no doubt, anywhere the temperatures drop below freezing and stay there a while. This made us think of the market for coffee. The market sizes presented here are world production figures for two years.

The production of this commodity is tracked in 60-kilogram bags of the beans. The price of coffee is tracked by the International Coffee Organization and has been rising steadily in recent years. Based on the monthly composite indicator price at which coffee is traded on the New York market the price rose 160% between December 2000 and December 2009. Over the same period, world inventories grew by 40%. And, since December 2009 the price has continued to rise, reaching 173.9 cents per pound in November 2010, the equivalent to 260% of the price per pound back in December 2000. Savor every sip!

We could do a simple calculation to get a rough approximation of the value of coffee produced in 2010, based on the information in our source report. If the November composite price for all types of coffee beans was $1.74, then a 60-kilogram bag would cost about $47.33 and thus world production in 2010 was worth approximately $5.6 billion. Of course, this is a very crude approximation so take it for what it is worth.

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2008 and 2010
Market size: 133.6 million and 139 million 60-kilogram bags respectively.
Source: “Coffee: World Markets and Trade,” USDA Circular Series, Table 6 and Table 8, December 2010, available online here.
Original source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service, and the International Coffee Organization.

Champagne Consumption

Not surprisingly, the nation with the largest consumption of champagne is the nation in which champagne is made, namely, France. The French consume approximately 177.6 million bottles of champagne each year. In terms of per capita consumption, two of France’s territories actually out consume the French population. Guadeloupe has an annual per capita consumption of champagne that is the highest in the world at 3.74 bottles per person. Next is Martinique with a per capita consumption of 3.3 bottles per person and France comes in third with per capita consumption of just under 3 bottles per person (2.93 bottles).

For a list of the countries with the highest champagne consumption, look at the table to which we provide a link in the source note below. Column 3 shows the number of bottles sold annually by country, in millions, and column 7 shows the per capita, bottle consumption figure per country.

Happy New Year!

Geographic reference: World
Year: 2009 (based on publication date)
Market size: 300.62 million bottles annually
Source: de Nederlandse Champagne Pagina’s, a website presenting interesting statisitcs about the champagne business worldwide, available online here.