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1.1 Definition and scope of the study

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

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

Whisky is obtained from a manufacturing process that requires different skills: malting of cereals, fermentation, distillation and aging.

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

Nevertheless, the French whisky industry has experienced a significant growth over the last ten years, with 1.1 million bottles of French whisky sold in 2020, 5 times more than in 2010 . Breton and Alsatian distillers are the most important and are experiencing a good dynamism.

Sales in value in the mass market grew by 1.3% between March 2020 and March 2019, while in volume the market is down with - 4.3% of sales over the same period. Thus, the whisky market is rather mature and brands need to innovate to find growth drivers.

1.2 The world whisky market

According to Globenewswire, the global whiskey market is estimated to be worth US$** billion in **** and is expected to grow strongly at *.*% per year through ****.

Whisky market size evolution World, ****-****, US$ billion Source: ****

Market growth is driven by various factors:

the strong cocktail trend, which is driving whisky sales, particularly ...

1.3 The French whisky market

We are interested here in the whisky market in the mass-market, which represents the great majority of the sales. The figures are given at P* of each year, which corresponds approximately to the end of March .

The French whisky market is quite mature, with sales stagnating and even slightly decreasing, but ...

1.4 Foreign trade in whisky

On the French Customs website, there are ** codes associated with the import and export of whisky. In value, the most imported whiskies are Scotch, then "other whiskies" and then bourbons (***).

Scotch Whisky:

We first look at the * codes that deal with Scotch Whisky, including single-malt (***), blended malt, single-grain and blended-grain. According ...

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 concerns various aspects:

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

Thus, the actors of the sector, through the French Federation of Spirits, have demanded a reduction in ...


2.1 Whisky, the favorite spirit of the French

According to a study by Ipsos, **% of French people consumed whisky at home in ****: whisky is thus ahead of rum and aniseed drinks. It is even **% on the basis of high incomes, proof that for many it is a premium consumption.

Share of French people who have consumed spirits (***) by type ...

2.2 Profile of whisky consumers

According to theIpsos study, the typical profile of the whisky consumer is a rather old man, with a rather high income

The average age of the consumers is **.* years old, with more than half of the consumers being over ** years old.

Moreover, more than */* of the consumers are men , as the ...

2.3 Ways of drinking whisky

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

Indeed, **% of consumers believe that it is a drink to be consumed in small quantities, to enjoy it .

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

moreover, **% consider it ...

2.4 Whisky buying criteria

What information is important for whisky consumers?

The quality criterion dominates the other criteria, as the following graph underlines. We can notice that the brand is less important than the other criteria.

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

The majority of whisky consumers ...

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

In ****, blends under ** years old dominated the market with **% of sales by value, followed by bourbons and malts.

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

the following table reports the changes in value and volume between **** and ****[***]

We note several trends that continue in **** and ****, such as the decline ...

2.6 The favorite whisky brands of the French

The graph below has been obtained from the survey conducted by OpinionWay about the favorite brands of the French in March ****. These are the answers of the respondents to the question "Do you like this or that brand of whisky?" for each brand, the percentage corresponds to the share of respondents ...


3.1 Value chain of the whisky industry

Simplified diagram of the whisky making process

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

Malting: process during which the starch of the ...

3.2 The rise of French whisky over the last ten years

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

The French industry has several assets to progress in the whisky industry

it masters all the stages of production and already has excellent know-how in distillation, aging and blending it is also the largest producer of barley malt, and French whiskies are most often single ...

3.3 Distribution analysis

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

Some specialized distributors (***) also sell whisky and are particularly appreciated by "connoisseurs", such as

cellars and networks of wine merchants like Nicolas pure-players such as La Maison du Whisky, which offers rather high-end whiskies from France and ...


4.1 Typology of the different types of whisky

Whiskies vary according to :

the ingredients used the production process their territorial origins

There is a great diversity of different whiskies, among which we find :

The single malt: it must be produced by a single distillery, it is the flagship product of Scottish distilleries. It is one of the most expensive ...

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 strong increase in prices between **** and **** a stagnation, and even a slight decrease between **** and **** a sharp increase between **** and ...

4.3 Heavy taxation

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 are required. These change every year: in ****, they will amount to ****.** €/HAP for consumption taxes and ***.** €/HAP for social security contributions.[***]

In ****, a bottle of spirits ...

4.4 Supply trends

Innovative launches as growth drivers:

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

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

Moreover, even if other spirits are more used for cocktails (***), the cocktail trend does not escape whiskey.

A ...


5.1 Regulations

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


The labeling of liquor bottles is strict and must include the following elements: ingredients, alcohol content, volume, and for example a logo representing a crossed-out pregnant ...


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Publicado en 31/01/2022 by Thibaut Reinhard - Biocanna Technologies SRL

We got the numbers we needed. Excellent study

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Note the recent but steady take-off of organic feed for farm animals, which is leading to a renewal of research and development in the sector

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Publicado en 06/01/2022 by Amaury Wernert

The work of collection, data processing and the method to estimate the market still poorly known are very relevant. Interview with the market specialist on the impact of the Covid crisis very interesting

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Publicado en 26/11/2020 by Lucie Piette - Cooperl

Good synthesis of the market with interesting figures

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