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Impact Databank: Bourbon’s Top Super-Premium Players

February 22, 2016

The Bourbon category has expanded by nearly one-third in the U.S. market since 2010, according to Impact Databank, and is closing in on 20 million cases, a level not seen in three decades.

Much of the momentum has been driven by the category’s top five super-premium brands—Maker’s Mark, Bulleit, Woodford Reserve, Gentleman Jack and Knob Creek—which have roughly doubled in aggregate since 2010. Together, these five brands—each averaging at least $25 a 750-ml. at retail—accounted for over 3 million cases on 12% growth last year.

Maker’s Mark, part of the Beam Suntory portfolio, remains the largest of that group by a margin of more than 800,000 cases, and it continues to grow, adding 75,000 cases in 2015. Beam Suntory tells SND it’s seeing solid trends on the core Maker’s Mark brand, but is also seeding growth on upscale extensions Maker’s 46—up 25% to 90,000 cases last year—and Cask Strength. Meanwhile, Knob Creek has averaged 20% annual growth over the past five years and depleted nearly 350,000 cases in 2015.

Like Maker’s Mark, Diageo’s Bulleit has added roughly half a million cases to its volume total since 2010. With the brand’s net sales rising 26% in the U.S. in the six months through December, Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes recently told analysts, “We intend to keep feeding that (growth).” Bulleit broke ground on a new $115 million distillery project in 2014, and with construction now past the midway point, expects to have the 750,000-case facility up and running by the end of this year.

U.S. – Top Five Super-Premium Bourbon Brands1
(thousands of nine-liter case depletions)
Brand Company 2012 2013 2014 2015E Percent
Maker’s Mark3 Beam Suntory Inc 1,185 1,249 1,338 1,413 5.6%
Bulleit Diageo North America 265 330 480 564 17.5
Woodford Reserve4 Brown-Forman Beverages Worldwide 190 234 293 364 24.2
Gentleman Jack Brown-Forman Beverages Worldwide 267 287 312 349 11.9
Knob Creek Beam Suntory Inc 193 231 290 348 19.9
Total Top Five 2,100 2,331 2,713 3,038 12.0%
^1 at least $25 per 750ml at retail
^2 based on unrounded data
^3 includes Maker’s 46
^4 includes Double OakedSource: IMPACT DATABANK
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