April 24, 2020

WELL, I CELEBRATED THE END OF TEACHING FOR THE SEMESTER LAST NIGHT WITH AN H. CLARK TENNESSEE BOURBON FROM MY FORMER STUDENT HEATH CLARK’S ARTISAN DISTILLERY: U.S. Liquor Sales Come with a Pinch of Salt: Spirits are outperforming beer in America as shoppers load up on expensive drinks. That might not last.

If you are using the lockdown to improve your home cocktail-making skills, you may not be the only one.

For liquor companies, lucrative U.S. store sales are a rare bright spot in an otherwise moribund global market. The question is whether Americans are simply replenishing their cabinets—implying a dearth of sales in the coming months—or drinking almost as much at home as they normally would in closed bars and restaurants.

Jameson Whiskey’s owner Pernod Ricard PDRDY -0.15% said Thursday that total sales in the three months through March declined 14.5% compared with the same period of last year. In the U.S., sales shrank just 3%, based on Jefferies estimates.

The relatively strong U.S. performance may be partly explained by the timing of lockdowns in different regions, but Americans also seem to be pantry-loading alcohol at a remarkable rate. After an initial rush to stock up on essentials like nonperishable food, consumers are turning to wine, liquor and beer.

It makes sense.

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