The threat of US craft distilleries to major players has been "greatly exaggerated", according to Rabobank. 

In its Q4 2015 report, released late last week, Rabobank senior wine & spirits industry analyst, Stephen Rannekleiv said the benefits of craft distilleries to the industry had also been underestimated. "Craft distillers are enjoying exceptional growth rates - a trend we expect will continue - but their threat to major distillers has been overblown," said Rannekleiv. "The top 17 largest spirits companies in the US actually gained share over the past few years.

"Craft distillers are generating excitement and helping to expand the spirits market, but it is the innovative second tier companies (by size), such as Proximo, Gallo, Brown-Forman and Luxco, that are really gaining market share."

Meanwhile, the report outlined a "challenging time" in recent years for the rum segment in major developed markets. In both the US and Europe, rum sales have been on the decline, according to Rabobank.

But, Rabobank's analysts added: "We believe the category has opportunities to regain its footing in both markets.

"In general, financial performances of spirits companies showed moderate signs of improvement in most major markets this quarter, displaying increased margins and profitability. As consumer confidence recovered in developed markets and consumers gradually emphasised premium spirits, operating margins expanded."

Earlier this year, Rabobank pointed out that cider's growth is a threat not only to the beer category, with wine set to be squeezed by its increasing popularity.