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Exclusive: Challenging Year For Top 100 Spirits Brands, But Bourbon Rides High

February 23, 2015

Impact’s exclusive report on the top 100 premium spirits brands worldwide reveals that 2014 was a challenging year for the industry’s biggest-volume players. Six brands were above the 10-million-case mark last year, but only one of those—Jack Daniel’s—posted growth (+1.7%). Among the other five, the world’s number-one premium player, Smirnoff, was flat, while Bacardi (-4.5%), Johnnie Walker (-9.0%), Absolut (-3.3%) and Captain Morgan (-1%) all lost ground.

The premium top 100 eked out modest aggregate growth (+0.6%), largely on the strength of a few standout brands and impressive progress for the Bourbon category. The five Bourbon brands in the top 100 advanced by a combined 1 million cases in 2014, led by Jim Beam (which grew by 7%, or 500,000 cases) and Evan Williams (+15.3%). Meanwhile, Jack Daniel’s liqueur offshoot Tennessee Honey was among the fastest-risers, with a 33.6% increase.

The biggest star in the premium top 100, however, is Canadian whisky-based brand Fireball, which grew by a remarkable 1.6 million cases for the second consecutive year. The Sazerac Co.-owned brand now stands at 4 million cases and is on pace to enter the world’s premium top 10 rankings by year-end.

Like most other categories, vodka found growth difficult to achieve in 2014, as the 22 entries among the premium top 100 inched up by a collective 0.7%. But after Fireball, the two biggest gainers on the list were both vodkas: Tito’s (+54.9%) and New Amsterdam (+44.5%). Those two vodkas sold a combined 5 million cases last year, up from a total of 2 million cases just two years ago.

A full report on the world’s top 100 spirits brands appears in the February 1&15 issue of Shanken’s Impact Newsletter.

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