Which Countries Consume The Most Alcohol? And Who Drinks What?

I don’t usually write about alcoholic drinks – my specialist field being packaged food, fresh food and non-alcoholic beverages – but I suddenly found myself intrigued to see which nations guzzled the most booze and what type. Here is what I found in the database:

Overall, the Czech Republic consumes the most alcoholic drinks, downing 173 litres per capita per annum.

[Note: All figures are per capita, retail (drink purchased in supermarkets, corner shops, etc) combined with on-trade consumption (bars, clubs, restaurants, etc), at legal drinking age. All data refers to 2012 consumption levels.]

Next in line are Slovenia, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Poland, Belgium and Finland.

And now let’s look at national tipple preferences in more detail. A nice cool beer after a long day at work is not quite the same as downing six glasses of vodka, even though what slips down the throat may be equal in quantity, i.e. in terms of liquid volume.

The Czech Republic tops the beer consumption charts, which explains the previous statistic. Czech people may be in love with their beer, but at least they are not in the front line of the ‘drinking hard’ league. Czech per capita beer consumption amounted to 144 litres in 2012, while Germany mustered 107 litres, Ireland 105 litres and Belgium 87 litres, just to give you some comparison with other beer worshipping nations.

Ireland and the UK lead, no surprises here. Finland’s next in line. It’s worth noting, perhaps, that cider hasn’t caught on much in Eastern Europe. Neither the Czechs nor the Poles care for it in the slightest, it seems. Estonia and Lithuania quite like it… I guess it’s trickled down from Finland.

I had my money on Russia, but my sure-fire expectations have been well and truly dashed. South Koreans(!) knock back the most dizzying quantities of spirits in the whole wide world, a whopping 25 litres! Next in line are Belarus, Estonia, and finally, here comes Russia with a paltry 12 litres, just under half of what our comparatively dainty South Koreans can handle. This must surely be a most devastating kick in the morose Russian soul, and even more so as they fail to emerge as numero uno in the vodka gulping charts, where it’s Belarus in the lead racking up 16 litres – six whole litres more than Russia, which finds itself relegated to third place! Estonia is runner up, Poland occupies fourth place… well, I will refrain from listing the entire vodka belt. We’ve still got a lot of booze to get through, so cling onto your seats and your livers.


France led with 2 litres in 2012, followed by Uruguay, Spain and the US.

But here comes a real shocker: in fifth place, we find the United. Arab. Emirates.

Yes, you read that right. A Muslim country features in the top five of the global whisky per capita consumption charts. Oh my. The UK claims 8th place. Scotland is not broken out in the data, unfortunately, otherwise they may have been top of the tree. At least that’s what I’m hoping, it would be a dismal national disgrace for them otherwise.

Phillippines. Baffled…? So am I!

Switzerland in the lead, followed by Russia.

Ah now. Here everything’s nice and predictable. At least to start with. Portugal crowns the wine rack, with 43 litres,  Italy and France nipping at its heels. But then it gets weird. Slovenia is in third place and Switzerland fourth with 38 and 36 litres respectively, 47 and Spain, which I had expected to occupy a top five slot, lags miles behind in 18th place with an embarrassing 21 litres. Eighteenth?!? Come again?!?! I live in Spain, and boy, are they proud of their wine. Nevertheless, Germany has Spain choking on its dust with 26 litres, and even the UK somehow manages to plonk itself just ahead of the Costal Del Sol & Outskirts in 17th place. This will have me scratching my head till at least midnight, I tell you.

There’s nothing like a luxurious finish with a swig of the priciest bubbly money can buy. France (who else?!) leads with 2 litres per capita in 2012, followed by Belgium and Switzerland. The UK, quite admirably, clambers into 4th place.


[This article was updated on 13 March 2014]

[For data source, click here]


20 thoughts on “Which Countries Consume The Most Alcohol? And Who Drinks What?

  1. polyglotfun

    I’ve been to over 2 dozen countries and I’ve come to the conclusion that… everyone everywhere drinks (surprise, surprise!). 🙂 I’m most curious about how all this data is collected.


    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Consumption is lower in Muslim countries… but it’s hard to reliably estimate ‘illegal’ consumption, for obvious reasons.
      The company collects sales data (i.e. retail, on-trade), some info also comes directly from manufacturers.


      1. Anna

        You are such a bully, you know that? Dont worry, I’ll placate you with a food post in a couple of hours (I am always trying to find a good posting time bc my readers are heavily US and Russia-based, with 8 hours between them).


  2. Pingback: TRAVEL READS – September 2015 | Home & Away

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