The Bulletin

A shift among the world's biggest drinkers

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Europeans, who could once be counted on to imbibe copious amounts of liquor, have slowed down their consumption rate in recent years. Lucky for distilleries, folks in the Asia-Pacific region have picked up the pace, more than offsetting declines in France, Spain, Germany and Italy.

China alone now accounts for 38 percent of global spirits consumption, according to data released this month by International Wine & Spirits Research, courtesy of The Economist. The IWSR data shows seven of the top 10 growth markets are in the Asia-Pacific region.

Most of the increased consumption is from local spirits. In China, the drink of choice is a heady liquor known as baiju, which accounts for 99.5 percent of all spirits consumed there.

The affinity for baiju hasn't prevented foreign companies from trying to hawk their high-end sauce in China. The country's clear hankering for liquor has distilleries like Macallan and Pernod Ricard falling all over themselves to break into the Chinese market, even as the government scales back its sponsored banquets and gift-giving—a major driver of high-end spirits sales.

China's thirst for baiju, 1.16 billion cases of which were consumed in 2012, still wasn't enough to surpass Russians' love, however cliche it might seem, for vodka.

The global consumption of vodka was 4.44 billion liters in 2012, reported The Economist. Russians were responsible for drinking nearly half the global total, the equivalent of 13.9 liters for every man, woman and child there.

Americans, on the other hand, don't appear to have an allegiance to just one liquor. They like them all. The U.S. consumed more than 0.6 billion liters of vodka, 0.2 billion liters of Scotch whisky, 0.6 billion liters of rum, 0.3 billion liters of gin and 0.36 billion liters of tequila.

Flickr user: Ben Smith

— By on June 18, 2013, 7:06 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure