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Translating per capita consumption rates of spirits into the number of shots consumed, whilst offering an eye catching view of the market, tends to distort trends driving alcoholic drinks consumption. Therefore, we would like to add the following clarifications to the recent rash of articles ranking countries by alcohol consumption.
It should be noted that we track alcoholic volume in litres and that was the information provided to the original publication. While that and resulting stories converted our data into to shots, they did not explain their measurements which could potentially confuse readers of the article for a number of reasons. With the rising momentum of both cocktail culture and the sipping trend alongside a vast array of diverse drinking rituals across the globe, it is worth nothing that abv (alcohol by volume) content of products such as soju (typically within the 21~30% range and the reason while South Korea secures the top slot) is much lower than that of vodka or bourbon, a fact with a wide range of implications when analysing levels of abuse, intoxication or health policy.
The real story here is not really about a host of Eastern European markets topping per capita rankings on the back of a long, rich and much vaunted history of vodka production and consumption but rather the fact that a combination of governmental measures and nascent health awareness trends are either contributing to stagnating spirits consumption or exerting downward pressures while shifting it towards lower abv categories and the aspirational consumption of higher end imported varietals.