Total distilled spirits consumption in the US rose 2.1% in 2008 to 185.6m nine-litre cases, according to figures by the Beverage Information Group.

A 2009 Liquor Handbook released by the group this week showed the gain is the eleventh consecutive year of advances for the industry.

Figures also showed that imported spirits' growth was slower than that for domestic spirits for the first time since 2001, as a result of consumers trading down and the weak value of the dollar raising prices.

Total imported spirits rose 1.7% to 74.3m cases, compared to 2.5% growth in domestic spirits to 111.3m.

"With consumers tightening their spending, they are frequenting bars and restaurants less, which has lead to a measurable shift to off-premise consumption," said Eric Schmidt, manager of information services for the Beverage Information Group. "On-premise sales dropped 3% to US$35.3bn, whereas off-premise sales have jumped 9.6% to $27.6bn."

The group claim drivers continue to be flavoured products coupled with sales that now run the gamut of the price spectrum from above-premium offerings to value-priced offerings, which are outpacing the overall market.