Retailers are operating in unprecedented times. With the ongoing pandemic, consumers are continuing to order their alcohol purchases online like never before. The products they’re buying, and who’s making the purchases, are shifting. 

To help retailers efficiently navigate these complicated waters, we examined the top-selling products across Drizly’s nationwide system during the Covid-affected months of March through July. Recent data points to premiumization, enthusiasm for making cocktails, and a growing thirst for tequila. As you consider inventory decisions in the months ahead, here’s a deep dive into Drizly’s top-selling spirits — and what the data means for you. 

Drizly’s 20 Top-Selling Spirits

  1. Tito’s Handmade Vodka 
  2. Bulleit Bourbon
  3. Casamigos Blanco 
  4. Jameson Irish Whiskey 
  5. Espolòn Tequila Blanco 
  6. Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky
  7. Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey
  8. Ketel One Vodka
  9. Patrón Silver Tequila 
  10. Hennessy V.S. Cognac 
  11. GREY GOOSE Vodka 
  12. Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka 
  13. SVEDKA Vodka 
  14. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  15. Hendrick’s Gin
  16. Don Julio 1942 
  17. Tanqueray London Dry Gin 
  18. Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey 
  19. Clase Azul Reposado Tequila 
  20. Johnnie Walker Black Label 

Top-Selling Spirits — and Categories — Are Still a Sure Bet

Retailers can confidently continue investing in consumer favorites in the months ahead. Tito’s Vodka extends its reign from 2019 as the No. 1 liquor on Drizly’s 20 Top-Selling Spirits list, while whiskey continues to be the dominant liquor subcategory through the pandemic, accounting for 35 percent of sales in the spirits category. 

Drizly’s Top 20 Best-Selling Spirits, Spirits Category Share

Whiskey: 35 percent
Vodka: 25 percent
Tequila: 25 percent
Gin: 10 percent
Brandy: 5 percent 

Bulleit Bourbon and Jameson Irish Whiskey sit pretty in the Top 5, while Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Jim Beam Bourbon, and Johnnie Walker Black Label round out the rest of the subcategory. Woodford Reserve is a newcomer to the list at the No. 14 spot and is a liquor that retailers might consider adding to their inventory, if they haven’t already. 

“Woodford Reserve sales on Drizly have grown exponentially since March and we continue to see major growth in e-commerce,” said Chris Poynter, public relations and partnership manager at Woodford Reserve. “Although many people were pantry-loading initially, it’s clear that consumers have grown accustomed and comfortable with alcohol delivery because it’s so easy and convenient.”

Tequila Continues to Grow

Tequila brands have comprised 25 percent of the Drizly’s Top 20 spirits slots during the pandemic, up five percent from 2019. Casamigos Blanco jumped from the seventh to the fourth slot, while Espolòn Tequila Blanco and Patrón Silver Tequila both cracked the Top 10. Don Julio 1942 and new addition Clase Azul Reposado Tequila also made the list. Casamigos and Espolòn are the fastest-growing tequila brands on Drizly and have grown their share 0.43 percent and 0.55 percent, respectively, since 2019. 

This recent growth in the tequila category isn’t all that surprising considering that it’s been the fastest-growing spirits category in terms of share gains on Drizly for several years, doubling from 3.09 percent of overall platform share in 2016 to 6.52 percent in 2020. Moreover, according to Nielsen, tequila now accounts for 12.7 percent of U.S. off-premise spirits sales, which is up from 9.1 percent for the 52 weeks prior to the pandemic.

Yet while tequila has been trending for some time, Liz Paquette, the head of consumer insights for Drizly, believes the pandemic has given the category an extra boost — and retailers should look to invest in it. “In recent years, we have seen a shift among consumers associating tequila with specific occasions to a regular go-to within the liquor category,” Paquette says. “The Covid-19 pandemic has furthered the growth of the category, benefiting from continued premiumization and at-home cocktail trends.”

More Women Are Buying Spirits

Drizly has recorded a noteworthy increase in women purchasing spirits during the pandemic. Liquor purchasers have been at nearly an even split between men (50.27 percent) and women (49.73 percent) compared to 52.4 percent men and 47.6 percent women in 2019. Similar to premiumization, “one explanation for this shift,” said Paquette, “is the rise of the at-home, cocktail-making trend during the pandemic period.”

Supporting that assertion is data showing that “liqueur, cordials, and schnapps,” essential to making cocktails, rose to the Top 5 subcategory amongst women during the pandemic, pushing gin out of the No. 5 ranking. The other best-performing subcategories for female shoppers are: No. 1 vodka, No. 2 bourbon, No. 3 silver/blanco tequila, and No. 4 flavored vodka, which all maintained their year-over-year positions. Comparatively, the best-performing subcategories for male shoppers are: No. 1 vodka, No. 2 bourbon,  No. 3 silver/blanco tequila, No. 4 flavored scotch, and No. 5 london dry gin. 

Consumers Are Willing to Spend More

As Paquette notes, despite the economic circumstances, we’ve seen a continued shift to premiumization— and more so in spirits than other alcohol categories — which she credits to the drastic deviation from on-premise sales. Consumers were used to paying more for drinks experiences at bars and restaurants, but in that void of ongoing closures, behavior has shifted. “Consumers are trading up on alcohol at retail, as they look to recreate bar-quality cocktails and drink experiences at home,” she explains. 

While the $10 to $39.99 price point accounts for 59 percent of Drizly’s Top 20 spirits, the price point of $60 and above accounted for 15 percent of the total share. The tequila category as a whole has been a significant driver in premiumization on Drizly. There’s been a four percent shift year-over-year to premium tequilas (priced $30 to $59.99) from less expensive bottles (priced $1 to $29.99). 

Premium whiskey is on the rise, too. At the start of the pandemic, whiskeys priced $30 and above experienced a nine percent share increase on Drizly in March and April, compared to the same time period in 2019. Poynter surmises that premiumization helps explain Woodford Reserve’s 2020 success as well. “There are two trends we have noticed during the pandemic. First, people wanted to make premium cocktails at home like those they enjoyed at bars and restaurants. Second, they wanted a high-quality, known bourbon they trusted,” he said. “Woodford Reserve [has been] in an excellent position to meet both of those consumer needs.”

The IWSR further backs up Drizly’s data that consumers are favoring quality over quantity, forecasting that the global volume market share for premium-and-above spirits will increase to 13 percent by 2024. The U.S. is the second-largest market for this category behind China, so retailers may want to expand the presence of premium brands — especially within categories like tequila and whiskey — in the months ahead.