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Volume of US Whiskey Consumption

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World Book Volume 1A. Chicago: A Scott Fetzer Company, 2001: 336. "Americans drink about … And 416 million gallons (1.6 billion liters) of spirits annually." 1.6 GL
Annual Statistics Review. Washington, DC: Distilled Spirits Council of the US, 1977: 43. "Apparent consumption of distilled Spirits in 1977 was 432,564,911 gallons." 1.637 GL

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Whiskey (or whisky), along with gin, vodka, rum and brandy are the major distilled alcoholic beverages (distilled spirits or liquor) produced in the world today. The United States ranks about 20th among nations in the per capita (per person) consumption of alcoholic beverages.1 The taxes from the sales of these drinks are a large source of revenue for the US state and local government. Scotch, Canadian and American whiskeys combined, account for about 1/3 of the distilled spirits sold in the US However, along with other distilled spirits, whiskey consumption has been decreasing markedly since the 1970s.2

Whiskey is usually distilled from a fermented, or alcohol-containing, mash of grains. These grains include barley, rye, wheat, corn and oats. Most whiskey ranges from 80 to 100 proof. Straight whiskeys are flavorful. They are made from at least 51 percent of a particular grain. Water may be added to reduce the proof to a bottling strength of 80 proof minimum.3 Straight whiskeys are aged in new, charred white-oak barrels for at least 2 years. Blended whiskeys (rye whiskeys), are a combination of straight (minimum 20 percent) and light whiskeys.

The predominant ingredient in light whiskey is corn; the higher the amount of corn, the lighter the flavor. Bourbon, the most popular whiskey made in the United States, must have at least 51 percent corn in the mash; it may have as much as 79 percent. Light whiskey is stored in seasoned charred oak casks, which give off little color or flavor.


  1. World Book Volume 1A, pg. 33.
  2. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1995.
  3. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1995.

Daniel Ruderfer -- 2002