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Published:  23 July, 2008

Designer drinks finished strongly in the two most important months of the year, but wines and other spirits did less well, according to HM Customs & Excise figures published by the Wine & Spirit Association this month. Based on quantities released for home consumption in the UK, still wine up to 15% ABV was up 5.6% on November 2000 but down 9.6% on December 2000, though they were up 9.8% and 7.5% on the 12 months to November and December respectively. The disparity between still wines under and over 15% continued to grow. The latter were down 10.3% on November 2000 and up only 0.2% on December 2000, down 5.2% and 0.6% respectively on the year. For sparkling wines, the corresponding monthly figures were -5.7% and -23.5%, the yearly figures -3.8% and -5.2%. For designer drinks (under 5.5% ABV), monthly figures were +38.3% and +15.3%; yearly figures +35.3% and +32.6%. Made wines (5.5-15%) saw double-digit falls all round. Among spirits, home produced whisky fared poorly on the monthly figures (-1.8% and -7.8%), but slightly more successfully over the year (+0.4% and +2.4%). Even so, it was outperformed by other home produced and imported spirits, which saw monthly rises of 2.9% and 0.1%, and yearly rises of 4.3% and 5.4%.