Sales of American whiskey have skyrocketed, with US-born tipples achieving almost double the growth of single malts and far outshining declining sales of blended Scotch.

Value sales of American whiskey surged by a whopping 14.2% to £237.9m over the last year, according to research by The Grocer, as Brits splashed out an extra £29.5m - that’s an additional 1.3 million litres [Nielsen 52 w/e 24 March 2018].

Sales of single malt Scotch, meanwhile, grew 8.5% (£16.5m) to £210.8m (outperforming total spirits, which is growing at 7%). However, overall growth in Scotch was dragged down by a 1.6% (£11.6m) decline for blended brands, bringing combined growth of blends and malts in at £4.9m.

American whiskey’s growth was not necessarily “healthy”, stressed Nielsen analytics team leader Marika Praticò, as more volume was being given away - American whiskey volumes were up 16.2%. This was driven by a drop in average price of 1.8% compared with the last year, she said, although the average ppl of American whiskey remains above the £25 threshold.

Tom Aske, director of cocktail consultancy Fluid Movement, added: “I don’t think American whiskey is that much cheaper. But people have certain ideas about premiumisation with Scotch and think you have to pay more to get more, which is not necessarily the truth.” There had also been “a lot more of a focus on transparency in the production of American whiskey compared to Scotch”, he said, which tied into a broader desire among consumers for more information on provenance and production.

“Because bourbon and American whiskey is made from a collection of grains, it’s much easier for them to talk about what’s in it, where the grains come from and why they chose those grains.”

Blended Scotch was suffering because “a lot of people still have this idea that single malt is inherently better,” he added.

“This couldn’t be further from the truth. There was a massive campaign for years to make people stop drinking blends and start drinking malts. But people don’t realise that single malts are also blends. All the word ‘single’ means is that it is the production of one single distillery.”