Content of the study:
The whisky market - France

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1.1 Definition and scope of study

The whisky market is a sub-segment of the spirits market (beverages produced from distilled alcohol). The French Spirits Federation (FFS) divides spirits into two categories:

  • "simple" spirits , which include whisky, but also vodka, gin and rum, whose taste is linked to the distillation of the raw material.
  • Compound" spirits , such as aniseed-flavored aperitifs or liqueurs, whose taste is derived from the addition of aromatic substances to a neutral alcohol or brandy.

Whisky is obtained from a production process that requires a variety of skills, including malting cereals, fermentation, distillation and ageing.

Whisky is the most widely consumed spirit in France, making it an important market. Nevertheless, most whiskies are imported from Scotland (Scotch), the United States (Bourbon), Ireland and even Japan. The market is dominated by major groups such as Pernod-Ricard, Diageo, Brown Forman and Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits .

In 2022, despite an overall drop in alcohol sales due to war and inflation, whisky sales rose. France lost its status as the world's leading Scotch whisky consumer to India. The French whisky market is diversified, with strong consumption of mid-range whisky and growth in online sales. The number of whisky distilleries in France has multiplied, rising from just one in 1995 to almost 120 by 2022. At the same time, a market for luxury whiskies is developing, with bottles sold at very high prices, sometimes as collectors' items rather than for consumption.

Whisky is the favorite spirit of the French, despite a decline in alcohol consumption in France. However, in 2022 and 2023, with inflation leading to a decline in consumer purchasing power and higher production costs for spirits manufacturers, the sector must adapt to this global economic context. France, which accounts for just 0.6% of global whisky production, has seen its output rise sharply in recent years, reaching 643,000 liters in 2022 (+14%).

1.2 The global whisky market

According to Factmr, the global whisky market is estimated to be worth US$** billion in ****, with strong growth of *% a year through to ****.

Evolution of whisky market size World, ****-****, in US$ billion Source: ****

Market growth is driven by a number of factors:

the strong cocktail trend, which is boosting whisky ...

1.3 The French whisky market

Here, we focus on the mass-market whisky market, which accounts for the vast majority of sales. Figures are given at P* of each year, which corresponds roughly to the end of March .

The French whisky market is fairly mature, with sales stagnating and even declining slightly, but resisting in value terms. ...

1.4 Foreign trade in whisky

The Whiksy trade balance will be in deficit by more than *** million euros in ****

Whiskies trade balance France, ****-****, in € million Source: ****

The most significant share of exports is destined for the USA, accounting for over half of all exports. Other European countries such as Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland ...

1.5 The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the French spirits industry

The impact of the Covid crisis on the French spirits industry is multi-faceted:

loss of orders in cafés, restaurants, hotels (***) and nightclubs loss of export orders loss of orders from certain distributors (***)

Through the Fédération Française des Spiritueux (***) limiting promotions and creating inflation[***]

Insee subclass **.**Z"Production ...


2.1 Whisky, France's favorite spirit

The graph illustrates spirits purchasing preferences in France for the year ****, revealing a strong appetite for whisky, which clearly stands out. With **% of respondents having purchased whisky in the last ** months, this beverage is in second place, just behind rum, which leads by a narrow **%. This figure underlines whisky's special place ...

2.2 Profile of whisky drinkers

According to theIpsos study, the typical profile of a whisky consumer is an older man with a fairly high income .

The average age of whisky drinkers is **.*, with more than half over **.

What's more, over */* of consumers are men , as the following graph shows.

Breakdown of whisky consumers by gender France, ...

2.3 How and where whisky is consumed

Consumption rituals: French Whisky consumers prefer to drink it on its own (***), while only **% usually drink it in cocktails and **% in flavors.

In fact, **% of consumers believe that Whisky is a drink to be enjoyed in small quantities .

How do the French usually consume Whisky? France, ****, in Source: ****

What's more, **% consider ...

2.4 Whisky buying criteria

What information is important to whisky consumers?

Quality dominates the other criteria, as the following graph shows. Brand is much less important than the other criteria.

When you ask about Whisky, what information are you looking for? France, ****, in Source: ****

The majority of whisky consumers say they know little about this ...

2.5 The whiskies most consumed by the French (excluding cafés - restaurants - hotels)

In ****, blends less than ** years old will dominate the market with **% of sales by value, followed by bourbons and malts.

Breakdown of whisky sales by type France, ****, in Source: ****

The whisky market in **** showed robust growth, revealing positive trends in various segments. According to Nielsen data, overall whisky sales rose by ...

2.6 France's favourite whisky brands

The graph below is based on OpinionWay's survey of French consumers' favorite brands in February ****. These are respondents' answers to the question "Do you like this or that brand of whisky?" for each brand, with the percentage corresponding to the proportion of respondents who answered "yes".

Jack Daniel's is the favorite ...


3.1 The whisky industry value chain

Simplified diagram of the whisky-making process

Raw materials all whiskies use cereals as a basic ingredient. Barley is the most commonly used, but corn, oats, rye, wheat or rice can also be used, depending on the type of whisky (***)

Malting malting: a process during which the starch in the grains is ...

3.2 The boom in French whisky over the past decade

The French whisky industry: clear potential[***]

The French whisky industry has a number of advantages to help it progress:

it masters all stages of production and already possesses excellent know-how in distillation, ageing and blending. it is also the world's largest producer of barley malt, and French whiskies are more often ...

3.3 Distribution analysis

Traditional generalist distribution channels (***) largely dominate sales, in terms of both value and volume.

Some specialized distributors (***) also sell whisky, and are particularly popular with connoisseurs, such as :

cellars and networks of wine merchants such as Nicolas pure-players such as La Maison du Whisky, which offers top-of-the-range whiskies from France and ...


4.1 Types of whisky

Whiskies vary according to :

the ingredients used production processes territorial origins

There is a wide variety of different whiskies, including :

Single malt: produced by a single distillery, this is the flagship product of Scottish distilleries. It is one of the most expensive whiskies. Aberlour and Glenfiddich are major brands in this ...

4.2 Price analysis

An upward trend in prices over the last ten years:

According toInsee, the average retail price of a **cl whisky is €**.* in **** (***). Three periods can be observed on the graph:

a sharp rise in prices between **** and **** stagnation, and even a slight fall between **** and **** a sharp rise between **** and **** (***)

Retail ...

4.3 A heavy tax burden

Alcoholic beverages are subject to special tax regulations. Not only do they have to pay VAT, but since ****, consumption taxes and a social security contribution have been required. These change every year:The duty rates for spirits and alcoholic beverages shown in the tables below are increased by *.*% (***) for the year ...

4.4 Supply trends

Innovative launches as growth drivers:

Some strategies aim to attract younger consumers (***) by playing on "rounder" or "fruitier" tastes with, for example:

Jack Daniel (***). [***] Ballantine's Barrel Smooth (***), with a caramelized taste, launched in ****.

What's more, even if other spirits are more widely used for cocktails (***), the cocktail trend is not escaping ...


5.1 Regulations

since spirits are alcohols of at least **º and most products have an alcohol content well above the average, spirit drinks are highly regulated.


Bottles of spirits must be strictly labeled with the following information: ingredients, alcohol content, volume, and, for example, a logo depicting a crossed-out pregnant woman. Regulation of ...


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