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France takes top spot on world whisky-drinking table

Published:  17 March, 2016

French drinkers now lead the world in their whisky consumption, according to a new report by retail consultants Bonial.

The French drink an average of 2.15 litres of whisky a year, considerably more than the second-place country, Uruguay, with 1.8 litres per year.

The US is third, on 1.4 litres while the UK languishes in seventh, on 1.25 litres, just ahead of Ireland and India on 1.24 litres.

The other leading whisky-producing country, Japan, ranks 16th on 0.78 litres per person.

Data from the French Federation of Spirits used in the report shows that whisky consumption accounted for 38.7% of all spirits drunk in France in 2014.

The volume of whisky drunk in France in 2014 was equivalent to 45 Olympic swimming pools, Bonial said.

Pastis is the second most popular spirit, with 25.5%, with vodka in third place on 7.8% and white rum on fourth on 6.3%.

Gin accounted for just 1.3% of spirit consumption, with traditional French spirits such as Eaux-de-vie, Calvados and Armagnac languishing even further behind, on 0.5%, 0.3% and 0.2% respectively.

The three most popular whisky brands in the French market are Jack Daniel's, Ballantine's and Clan Campbell.

Ballantine's and Clan Campbell are both owned and distributed by French spirits giant, Pernod Ricard.

Scotch accounts for 90% of French whisky consumption at present, although the size of the domestic market is becoming increasingly attractive to distillers in France.

Nicolas Julhès, head of the Distillerie de Paris, said: "Within 15 years the world's best whiskies will be French.

"We will be able to stop copying the Scots to bring a real French style. We have the greatest specialists on ageing [alcohol] who have always worked in wine and cognac."

France produces nearly 700,000 bottles of whisky a year.

Scotland currently exports close to 1.2 billion bottles annually.