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William Grant Sees Rapid Growth For Monkey Shoulder, Extends Grant’s Blend With Ale Cask Finish

December 8, 2015

William Grant & Sons continues to track rapid growth from a small base for its Monkey Shoulder blended malt Scotch whisky offering, which is benefiting from avid consumer exploration across the brown spirits universe. Made from a combination of the Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie malts, the brand retails above $30 a bottle. After more than doubling to 22,000 cases in 2014, Monkey Shoulder is expected to add another 10,000-15,000 cases to its total for this year, William Grant & Sons tells SND. “The trade is discovering the quality to be found in blended malts, especially for whisky cocktails,” says Andrew Nash, the company’s category marketing director for Scotch.

With Monkey Shoulder thriving, William Grant is doubling down on innovation elsewhere in its Scotch portfolio. The company has linked with the burgeoning craft beer movement with the launch of an Ale Cask Reserve within its Grant’s blended Scotch whisky franchise, which enjoyed a 10% increase to 111,000 cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank, marking a turnaround.

Retailing at about $20 a 750-ml., a few dollars higher than the core Grant’s brand, Ale Cask is finished for up to four months in former ale barrels. The new entry has succeeded in generating interest in markets like California and Florida in the early going, according to Nash. “We see a strong role for Ale Cask in the U.S. market looking ahead,” he says.

The U.S. launch of Grant’s craft beer-inspired whisky comes as the blended Scotch market as a whole continues to lose share to the more vibrant single malt segment, as well as other whisky types. “Overall the blended Scotch market is pretty flat,” says Nash, “but we’re seeing good trends on Grant’s.”

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