Who tops the list in global alcohol consumption? The answer might surprise you. From wine at lunchtime in southern Europe to a pre-dinner Aperitivo in Italy or the beer-filled steins of Germany’s Oktoberfest, alcohol holds a revered spot in cultures worldwide, rivaling the significance of cuisine, literature, and music.
To ensure fairness in comparison, data from Our World In Data assessed consumption in terms of liters of pure alcohol, eliminating disparities across beer, wine, and spirits. Their findings show an average global consumption of 6.18 liters per person above the age of 15.
A glance at the data reveals Europe’s significant penchant for drinking, especially notable given the prevalence of beer enthusiasts in the top ten, even with beer’s lower ABV.
Countries with the highest alcohol consumption
1. Seychelles – 20.50 litres
Surprisingly, the idyllic archipelago of Seychelles tops the list. With less than 100,000 inhabitants, Seychellois men tend to drink more than women, often allocating up to a quarter of their household income to beverages. While beer is becoming the drink of choice in Seychelles, its popularity is mirroring a trend seen across Africa.
2. Uganda – 15.09 liters
Uganda’s capital, Kampala, offers beer at a mere £0.87 on average. Given the affordable price, Uganda’s increasing alcohol consumption doesn’t raise many eyebrows. Moreover, the nation’s appetite for South African wine has surged, with imports surpassing pre-pandemic figures.
3. Czechia – 14.45 litres
While Prague often buzzes with tourists seeking lively celebrations, the locals share an equal enthusiasm for their beer. Czechia, home to iconic Pilsner and the signature “Hladinka” pour isn’t resting on its laurels. Czech brewers are pushing boundaries, experimenting with novel hops and techniques.
4. Lithuania – 13.22 liters
Though Lithuania might have fewer daily drinkers within the EU, their monthly intake tells a different story. When they decide to indulge, they certainly don’t hold back. While beer and vodka remain popular choices, there’s an emerging fondness for Cava in this Baltic state.
5. Luxembourg – 12.94 litres
Luxembourg’s diverse palate, influenced by a considerable Portuguese community and neighboring French and German cultures, reveals a penchant for wine. Attractively priced, almost half compared to Belgium, it lures visitors from surrounding regions. The drinking age stands at 16, adding to its liberal appeal. Yet, the nation witnessed a dip in wine supplies recently after Prince Robert generously auctioned off 4,200 bottles from his collection for charity.
6. Germany – 12.91 liters
Germany’s love for alcohol isn’t a secret, with Oktoberfest celebrations resonating globally. But beyond their iconic beer culture, Germans have a sparkling penchant. Sparkling wines, including domestic creations and imported Champagne, are in high demand. In fact, a whopping 16 million Champagne bottles found their way to German tables last year, marking a 28% increase from 2019. So, as the Germans would cheer, “Prost!”
7. Ireland – 12.88 litres
While stereotypes often paint a simplistic picture, data underscores the Irish affection for stout and whiskey. The authenticity of whiskey in a jar aside, there’s a noticeable shift in Ireland’s alcohol policies. The Emerald Isle has recently implemented stringent regulations, including a ban on wine sales priced under EUR€7.40 per bottle.
8. Latvia – 12.77 litres
Making its mark as the second Baltic nation on our list (with Estonia trailing at 9.23 liters annually), Latvia’s drink landscape has an interesting twist. Although Stoli’s branding might imply otherwise, its production has been rooted in Latvia since 2000. But vodka isn’t Latvia’s sole claim to fame; the nation’s whisky import game is robust, having brought in GB£176 million worth of Scotch in 2020 alone.
9. Spain – 12.72 liters
Spain’s rich drink culture paints a vivid picture—from the refreshing Sangria and crisp Estrella to the deep notes of Rioja. Besides being a colossal beer producer, Spain stands second to Italy in wine production. The balmy Mediterranean climate, no doubt, encourages frequent sips, making regular drinking a norm.
10. Bulgaria – 12.65 litres
While Bulgaria’s beverages might not top global popularity charts, the country has its unique concoctions that are much cherished domestically. Mastika, bearing a resemblance to ouzo, and rakia, a fruity brandy, are both revered. Internationally, Bulgaria and the broader Black Sea region are gaining traction for their promising winemaking potential.
Further down the list, the United Kingdom finds itself sharing the 21st spot with Belarus, both averaging at 11.45 liters of ethanol per adult annually. This exploration of global alcohol consumption highlights not only the numbers but also the rich culture and histories that intertwine with every sip.