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The best selling spirits of 2023 aren’t what you’d expect

The worldwide spirits industry embraces soju and whiskey

Strong Spirits Set. Hard alcoholic drinks in glasses in assortment: vodka, cognac, tequila, brandy and whiskey, grappa, liqueur, vermouth, tincture, rum. Vintage bar counter background, selective focus
5ph / Adobe Stock

If you were asked to name the best-selling spirits in the world, what might you choose? Patron, the face of tequila in every club? Absolut, the practically inescapable Swedish vodka? Maybe Jack Daniels, a brand so iconic its name is practically interchangeable with Tennessee whiskey? Well, a new report from The Spirits Business has highlighted the best selling worldwide spirits brands of 2023, and they may not be what you expect.

The clue is in the word “worldwide,” as markets like China and India are increasingly becoming the places where spirits are sold most often. With a tough year for spirits sales in locations like the U.S. and Europe, these markets are becoming more and more important. “2023 was tumultuous, to say the least,” editor Melita Kiely wrote in the report, pointing out challenges from rising energy costs, inflation, and supply chain issues.

Not every brand is included in the Brand Champions report, as they don’t all disclose their sales numbers, but it’s certainly interesting to see what the big sellers are. The top ten list across all categories is as follows:

  1. Jinro (soju)
  2. White claw (ready to drink)
  3. McDowell’s Whisky (whisky)
  4. Royal Stag (whisky)
  5. -196°C Strong Zero (ready to drink)
  6. Chum Churum (soju)
  7. Smirnoff (vodka)
  8. Officer’s Choice (whisky)
  9. Tanduay (rum)
  10. Imperial Blue (whisky)

This just goes to show how different drinking habits are around the world. And if this has you curious about drinks like soju, a Korean clear spirit traditionally made with rice and now often incorporating different flavors like fruit, take this as an excuse to go out and try some new spirits, as these are increasingly available in supermarkets, liquor stores, and specialty shops.

Georgina Torbet
Georgina Torbet is a cocktail enthusiast based in Berlin, with an ever-growing gin collection and a love for trying out new…
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