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Beam’s Red Stag, Diageo’s Bulleit Rising Rapidly, Fueling Bourbon’s Expansion

January 29, 2013

Red Stag and Bulleit may not be among the U.S. market’s top-selling Bourbon brands, but both are driving expansion and excitement in the category. In the process, they’ve become growth engines for their respective marketers, Beam Inc. and Diageo North America.

According to Impact Databank estimates, both Red Stag and Bulleit advanced by at least 20% in the U.S. in 2012, with the former selling roughly 360,000 cases and the latter 235,000 cases. And while the core products for both Bourbons have thrived over the past few years—Red Stag has enjoyed a fourfold rise since 2009, while Bulleit’s volume has more than tripled during that timeframe—Beam and Diageo have also focused on innovation, with each extending their respective brands with new products of late.

In recent days, Bulleit unveiled a higher-proof, higher-priced offshoot, Bulleit 10. The new 10-year-old Bulleit expression is 91.2-proof (the core brand is 90-proof) and will retail for around $45 a bottle, approximately $20 higher than the original Bulleit, depending on the market. The launch comes roughly a year after Bulleit’s introduction of a straight rye whiskey. Bulleit Rye, price-positioned between the original Bourbon and Bulleit 10, got off to a very promising start in 2012.

Meanwhile, in the early months of 2012, Beam extended Red Stag with two flavor editions—Red Stag Honey Tea and Red Stag Spiced. Red Stag Honey Tea is infused with the flavor of sweet honey and tea, while Red Stag Spiced is flavored with cinnamon and other spices. Both are at 80-proof and retail at $17.99 a 750-ml. bottle, in line with the original black cherry-flavored variant.

While Red Stag and Bulleit have given a boost to a Bourbon category that was already achieving solid growth, competitors like Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Wild Turkey American Honey have also made flavored whisk(e)y a category to watch. Both brands—from Brown-Forman and Campari America, respectively—made significant progress in 2012, according to Impact Databank.


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