As Euromonitor's latest annual research approaches completion, 2017 is starting to look like it was a vintage year. The alcoholic drinks industry's global volume growth might not appear positively intoxicating at first glance but, at 1%, this is actually its strongest performance in half a decade.

It's a broad-based and potent cocktail of renewed buoyancy. From lager entering positive territory for the first time since 2013 on the back of the seemingly-infinite premiumisation narrative, to expanding non-alcoholic portfolios pushing the often-maligned segment into the limelight, beer appears frothy rather than flat.

But, it doesn't end there.

Shots of optimism were also prevalent in spirits where volumes - at a perhaps uninspiring yet solid 1.5% - were also the strongest since 2012. This performance was driven as much by blended Scotch's belated return to its historic trajectory as it was by the much-vaunted 'Ginaissance' that is currently in full swing. Registering a consistently-accelerating 5% volume growth for 2017, last year was English gin's most stellar performance since at least the early 2000s.

Nevertheless, it was - yet again - brown spirits and their over-proof allure as the wider category's de facto drivers that remained the protagonists. Beyond the usual Scottish suspects, it was whisk(e)y across the board as well as Cognac that continued to capitalise on artisanal credentials, authentic and resonant stories and mixology entering the mainstream. Tequila also largely retained last year's decade-high spike, as the transition from shots to sipping and aspirational consumption takes the edge off what was once a stiff drink.

Wine, meanwhile, appeared to have robust legs too, with still, light grape varietals gaining momentum on the back of Millennial-pink iterations reaching escape velocity. Red and white variants also fared relatively well, but it was the rising rosé tide that provided a refreshingly-crisp finish to the wider wine segment. The widely-covered boom of other sparkling wine was likewise related to its casual and unpretentious positioning, while vermouth's mixability credentials catapulted it into positive territory for the first time in years with the category ultimately registering its strongest performance in nearly a decade.

Is it time for celebratory toasts then? Not quite. Ale's gradual deceleration highlights the craft segment's underlying saturation issues ultimately bubbling to the surface. That flavoured lager languished in negative territory for the first time ever is another cautionary tale of the faddish limitations of flavour sophistication initiatives.

Finally, vodka, still seemingly trapped in a downward spiral, remains a prescient reminder of both the danger of complacency and the unrelenting nature of cyclical generational consumer movements.

The march towards premium brown spirits - Research in Focus

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Alcoholic Drinks Global Industry Overview

Alcoholic Drinks Global Industry Overview

In 2016 the global alcoholic drinks market remained in negative territory for a second year running and following hot on the hills of its first slump in more than a decade back in 2015. Nevertheless, ...read more