American distilled spirits exports broke new records in 2013, crossing the $1.5 billion threshold, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), New York. This growth was driven by premium bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, which exceeded the $1 billion mark for the first time, it reported at its annual briefing for Wall Street analysts.

"Eighty years after Prohibition repeal, this global whiskey renaissance is a trend that is benefiting producers, large and small, in the United States and around the world," said DISCUS Chief Executive Officer Peter H. Cressy in a statement. "These export records are driven by industry innovation, a very positive perception of American distilled spirits quality and heritage, and market-opening trade agreements."

The council also reported steady 2013 supplier sales growth in the U.S. market of 4.4 percent to $22.2 billion, paced by whiskeys of all varieties. Total U.S. volume growth was up 1.9 percent to approximately 206 million cases, and estimated overall retail sales of distilled spirits in the U.S. market was upward of $66 billion, it says.

In addition, the group estimated that overall market share of distilled spirits grew for the fourth straight year, rising by 0.4 points for a total of 34.7 percent share of the beverage alcohol market.

Key factors contributing to the U.S. market growth included industry product innovations; consumer fascination with premiumization, heritage and cocktail culture; expanded access through state market modernizations; and effective hospitality tax restraint by legislatures, DISCUS says.

"The wide product selection spirits suppliers offer consumers again paid off with solid revenue growth," DISCUS Chief Economist David Ozgo said in a statement. "For the first time in decades, all whiskey categories saw some growth. Whiskey was once the dominant spirit of choice for most Americans. While growth had been picking up over the last few years, 2013 was a banner year."

Ozgo reported that whiskeys of all varieties in the domestic market grew 6.2 percent to 52.7 million cases, worth just more than $7 billion in supplier sales, up 10.1 percent or $643 million in 2013. Highlights within the whiskey category include Irish whiskey, which was up 17.5 percent in volume to 2.5 million cases worth $500 million and up 20.5 percent in revenue; single-malt Scotch, which was up 11.6 percent in volume to 1.8 million cases worth $590 million and up 14.7 percent in revenue; and bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, which were up 6.8 percent in volume to 18 million cases worth $2.4 billion and up 10.2 percent in revenue.

To read the full DISCUS presentation, click here .