2018 Mid-Year Alcohol Industry Trends Report

Jul. 9, 2018

At Breakthru, we always strive to keep tabs on the latest trends in the alcohol industry, and last winter, we tapped our own Breakthru experts to make 2018 industry predictions. Some of those predictions have come true already, including the rise of hazy IPAs.


We checked back in with our experts to take the temperature on what’s trending with consumers so far in 2018.  


North American Whiskey

“North American Whiskey is trending for everyone right now. In South Carolina, we grew Bulleit volume 20% in F18. From F15 to F18, we grew volume by nearly 6,000 cases—a 99% increase!”

Mark Wittorf

Trade Development Director

Breakthru South Carolina


Organic Wines

“I often field questions from customers asking about sustainability practices at wineries and the quality of the grapes. Having a certified organic wine free of sulfites is a huge selling point. With so many restaurants focusing on fresh farm-to-table style cuisine and offering healthier options, having an organic wine alongside a meal is very popular.”

Maura Quinn

Sales Representative

Breakthru Pennsylvania



“Tequila is on fire, specifically, premium tequila, which has enjoyed 20% growth during the last year.”

David Schumacher

Division Retail Manager

Breakthru South Carolina


Rosé All Day

“It’s no surprise that rosé is continuing its explosive growth. The category continues to be heavily driven by consumer price points and rosé wines between $10-$20 are doubling their already impressive growth from last year.”

Darin Harris

VP – Strategy & Capabilities

Breakthru Arizona


“We have seen the rosé trend turn into a year-round category with different rosé producing regions, taste profiles and price points all enjoying the spotlight. As a result, we have seen significant spikes in volume growth for both our on- and off-premise accounts."

Joe Palisi

Marketing Manager

Connecticut Distributors Inc.


Sparkling Wine

“Sparkling wine has been a bit of a sleeper success story this year. Over the last 13 weeks, sparkling wine has grown by 11.6% which is more than 8% faster than the entire wine category. Consumers looking for crisp and refreshing summer sips need look no further than a chilled glass of sparkling wine or Champagne and adding a couple of options by the glass will help meet the demand.



Hazy IPAs, Again

“There is a visual appeal of a hazy, bright golden glowing beer that is intriguing. While the malt character is well hidden from generous amounts of late addition hops, juicy citrus and tropical aromas and flavors dominate this style, and that’s quite nice when done well. Subtle bitterness adds a thirst quenching satisfaction and drinkability vs. higher perceived bitterness of a West Coast IPA. I still have a place for West Coast IPAs, as they bring more balance of hops that bring aroma, flavor and bitterness backed by a noticeable malt bill, and shouldn’t be forgotten.”

Ryan Ferebee

Certified Cicerone and Craft Beer Specialist

Breakthru Minnesota


Discovering Europe

“The development of the North American palate has enabled restaurant consumers to explore any and all options on a wine program, increasing sales in traditionally European categories like rosé, sparkling wines and blended malt whiskies.”

Scott Wilkes

Vice President, On Premise

Breakthru Virginia


Local Distilleries with Local Ingredients

“We represent so many local distillers that incorporate local products, including corn, grain, sugar cane and more, which supports the local economy. Today’s informed consumer appreciates these types of products because it makes them feel like they are supporting the local cause.”

Frank Foster

Regional Director, Craft & Emerging Spirits

Breakthru South Region


Day Dining

“Sales at breakfast and the mid-afternoon—before the dinner rush—have grown this year. The popularity of lunch and brunch has created more opportunities for options like sauvignon blanc, sparkling wines and rosé.”

Alan Paquette

Vice President, General Manager Apex

Breakthru Florida


Frosé Alternatives

“Now that frosé has established itself as a go-to daytime cocktail, look out for forzignon blanc, pinot freezio and friesling as the new casual drinks of the summer. Imagine sitting on an outdoor café on a sunny summer day sipping on a frozignon blanc made with a touch of cucumber vodka!”



Culinary Brewing

“Pairing finely crafted beers with delicious food continues to excite consumers. We’ve been teaming up with our customers to educate consumers on how to pair beer with some of our finest local dishes.”

Steve Acuff

Craft Beer Business Manager

Director of Convenience Chains

Breakthru Beverage Group

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