As a result, spirits are and remain the EU’s biggest agri-food exports according to trade organisation Spirits Europe.
The trade body said the US showed "solid growth" (over €3 billion with a 22% increase), as did Canada (with a 31% increase compared to 2011).
The rest of the top ten exports markets are from emerging countries with increasing demand for premium branded European spirits.
Growth is driven by the whiskies category (44% of spirits exports) followed by cognac (26% of total exports).
Growth remained strong in emerging markets, driven by China (+19%) despite the economic slowdown, and South East Asia (+25%).
Growth in Eastern Europe is driven by Russia (+37%, the second largest export market overall).
While India is a growing market, EU imported spirit drinks only represent a "tiny fraction" of the total market which should grow substantially with the conclusion of an FTA (fair trade agreement), according to Spirits Europe.
Paul Skehan, director general of Spirits Europe said: “These are great results, and show the competitiveness of the sector in some very difficult markets around the world. At a time when many domestic European markets are struggling, we underline the importance of these thriving export markets to our sector. These exports generate jobs and investment in Europe at a time when both are badly needed. And, they generate close to €9 billion net for the European economy, as imports of spirits to the EU remain steady.”
Skehan reiterated the need for:
"Opening of new emerging markets through ambitious trade negotiations and regulatory cooperation;
Preventing new barriers in key markets that discriminate against imported spirits;
Allocating enough resources to the Commission, and within the Commission, to ensure implementation and enforcement of all trade agreements already negotiated.
Spirits Europe is the representative body for the spirits industry at European level, comprising 31 national associations and eight multinational companies.