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Beam’s 2 Gingers Begins National Rollout

July 12, 2013

Beam Inc. is ramping up the focus on its Irish whiskey brand 2 Gingers (roughly $25 a 1-liter) with plans to aggressively expand its U.S. distribution this year and next. Currently available in 10 markets, the label is expected to launch in Texas, Louisiana, Washington, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oregon, Vermont, New Hampshire and Indiana later this year. An additional five markets—including New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.—are slated to follow in 2014.

The brainchild of Minnesota-based entrepreneur Kieran Folliard, 2 Gingers is a blended, 40%-abv whiskey produced at Ireland’s Kilbeggan Distillery Co. (Cooley Distillery). According to Folliard, his aim was to make a more broadly appealing product that could attract both female and non-whiskey drinking demographics.

“When people talk about whiskey, they typically associate it with male and wintertime images, and that’s certainly had a lot to do with the marketing that whiskey has had over the years,” he says, adding that the 2 Gingers label—which features portraits of his mother and aunt—helps differentiate the brand. “We thought, what if we can create a genderless, seasonless whiskey that’s very versatile and approachable?”

After launching on-premise in July 2011 in Minnesota, 2 Gingers sold more than 20,000 cases in its first 11 months, with a pair of simple ginger ale cocktails—the Big Ginger and Skinny Ginger—serving as a primary consumption vehicle. Four months after rolling out at retail in January 2012, the brand became the second-largest Irish whiskey in the state, according to Nielsen data, surpassing major players like Bushmills and Tullamore Dew. Beam acquired the brand that same year, following its late 2011 purchase of Cooley for $95 million. Folliard stayed on board to serve as Beam’s chief Irish whiskey ambassador in the U.S.

“2 Gingers is a ‘Trojan Horse’ for the Kilbeggan portfolio—it’s priced right, and it’s got a broad appeal and point of differentiation in the label,” says Folliard. “It can help bring the rest of the family in.” In addition to 2 Gingers, Beam’s Irish whiskey portfolio includes the Greenore, Connemara, Tyrconnell and recently revamped Kilbeggan brands.

The Irish whiskey category, meanwhile, appears poised for continued growth, following double-digit gains over the past few years, led by Pernod Ricard’s Jameson. Last year, Irish whiskey was up 18% in the U.S., according to Impact Databank, surpassing 2 million nine-liter cases for the first time.

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