On-trade whisky sales have increased by £29.2m year on year driven by consumers switching to more specialist and higher quality options according to new research by CGA Strategy.

The research said that whisky is the second-largest spirits category in the on-trade after vodka, worth £1.1bn in sales over the past 12 months.

The figures showed that while volume sales are actually in decline (-1.7%), new and existing whisky drinkers are switching to more specialist and higher-quality options.

It also found that the popularity of malt whisky is on the up, with 41,533 additional 70cl bottles sold in the on-trade during the past 12 months, growing sales by £11m to £176.2m.

More than 7,000 extra licensees are stocking malt whisky compared with five years ago.

Standard American whiskey is in decline, while premium American whiskey has seen sales grow year-on-year to a value of £82.8m.

Irish whiskey sales are also increasing, with year-on-year value and volume growth for the past five years making sales now worth £75.4m to the on-trade.