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Published:  23 July, 2008

After an apparently sluggish December, demand for all categories was surprisingly strong in January, suggesting that Christmas and New Year sales may actually have been higher than first supposed. The latest figures from the Wine and Spirit Association/HM Customs & Excise, which show quantities taken out of bond and released for home consumption in the UK, also suggest more efficient stock and supply management during December, the most critical month of the year. Still wine up to 15% ABV was up 24.9% on January 2001 (at 627,500 hectolitres [hl]), and 8.6% on the year to 31 January 2001 (9,655,000hl). More surprising was the strong performance of still wine above 15% ABV, up 50.4% on the month (18,500hl), 3.5% on the year (293,000hl); and of sparkling wine, up 40.2% (40,100hl) and 1.5% (526,000hl) respectively. Coolers' or Designer Drinks' (less than 5.5% ABV) were up only 4.2% on the month (194,100hl), but still up 29.7% on the year (3,720,000hl), while made wine (from concentrate) (5.5-15% ABV) was up 32.8% on the month (24,700hl), down 13.9% on the year (369,000hl). Home-produced whisky was up 10.7% (1,340,000 litres of pure alcohol/ LPA) and 2.7% (32,200,000LPA). Other home-produced and imported spirits were up 19.7% (3,650,000LPA) and 6.2% (65,300,000LPA).