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Jim Beam Goes Upscale With Latest Extension, “Signature Craft”

October 25, 2013

After years of uneven growth, Beam Inc. has put its namesake Bourbon brand on a solid upward trend through a series of innovations, led by cherry-flavored Red Stag. But while Red Stag and other flavored whiskies have created momentum by appealing to young LDA consumers, Jim Beam’s latest offering, its “Signature Craft” series, marks an attempt to connect with whiskey aficionados.

The Signature Craft line, whose first two editions have been rolling out in recent weeks, is aimed at “expert Bourbon drinkers looking to discover new top-shelf expressions,” according to Chris Bauder, general manager, Whiskies, at Beam Inc.

The first products in the line are Jim Beam Signature Craft 12-Year Bourbon and Jim Beam Signature Craft Rare Spanish Brandy, both 43%-abv and priced at $40 a 750-ml., more than double the average retail price of Jim Beam’s core White Label. The 12-Year Bourbon is a permanent addition to the Jim Beam family, while Rare Spanish Brandy is an “extra-aged” offering that will be replaced by a new limited Signature Craft edition next year. “(This is) a line of ultra-premium, innovative whiskies designed to showcase some of our finest hand-crafted and rare liquids,” Bauder explains.

Signature Craft follows on the heels of several other recent innovations within Beam’s Bourbon portfolio, including its first upscale flavor extension, Knob Creek Smoked Maple, along with Jim Beam Maple, Jim Beam Honey, Red Stag Hardcore Cider, and white whiskey Jacob’s Ghost, which Bauder says is gaining share in the fast-growing moonshine segment.

According to Impact Databank, the core Jim Beam brand was up 2% to 3.23 million cases in 2012, with Red Stag jumping 36% to 340,000 cases. Citing Nielsen data, Bauder says that in the 52 weeks ending September 14, the Jim Beam brand family rose 8% by value, with its high-proof Devil’s Cut variant helping to drive growth. Maker’s Mark and Basil Hayden’s, meanwhile, have been propelling Beam Inc.’s super-premium Bourbon stable, which grew by 21% over the same period, fueling a 10% advance across the company’s total Bourbon portfolio.

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