Everybody in the world is drinking less – apart from the Americans, apparently. Or so screamed a headline I read last week, reporting some data from Euromonitor International. It’s the first global decline since 2001.

Analysis of the figures by Mintel said that although people were drinking less in terms of volume, their choices were focusing more on quality and complexity, particularly where spirits are concerned. Sales of cognac, bourbon and mezcal all rose last year, but apparently vodka and rum sales fell by 100million and 20million litres respectively.

And in the UK, according to Diageo, premium spirit brands are increasing by 10% year on year in the off-trade.

This tallies with research from a company called Vinexpo from earlier this year, which claimed that the UK is now importing 10% more spirits than it was in 2010. Exotic craft spirits are on the rise in this country, and Vinexpo has predicted that UK imports will continue to grow at a similar rate over the next five years.

A small base, sure, but one worth thinking about. The traditional UK spirit brands are still absolutely crucial to your store, but there is a growing opportunity for you to capitalise on the way that the spirits market is going.

I remember talking to one retailer a couple of months ago about the old-school selling mentality. He told me about how his father always thought he knew best. One day his Dad came into the shop, and asked him about his spirits.

“What’s this? Why aren’t you selling High Commissioner whiskey?,” he said.

“Dad, no-one wants High Commissioner anymore,” the retailer replied.

“Of course they do! Everyone drinks High Commissioner!” said his father.

This ‘they will buy what we give them’ mentality is changing as retailers understand that they need to cater for a different customer. Those born after 1980 are experimenters, chasing new thrills and tastes.

The world is smaller for them, and you need to cater for it. The good thing is that those new world tastes aren’t cheap to get hold of, and that there is a vast and growing customer base that is willing to pay for it.