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Single Malt Strength Makes The U.S. Edrington’s Largest Market

May 23, 2016

Since creating its Edrington Americas unit in 2014, Scotland-based Edrington has added about 50,000 cases of premium spirits volume to its U.S. total, led by luxury single malt Scotch whiskies The Macallan and Highland Park. When Edrington took over its own U.S. sales and marketing from Remy Cointreau two years ago, its U.S. portfolio was at about 550,000 cases, according to Impact Databank. By the end of last year, volume had risen to nearly 600,000 cases, and thanks to strong value growth, the U.S. has become Edrington’s leading global market.

The Macallan and Highland Park have benefited from increasing interest in high-end spirits. Last year, The Macallan grew 7% to 217,000 nine-liter cases, while Highland Park hit 20,000 cases on 10% growth. “U.S. consumers are becoming more discerning,” says Chris Spalding, Edrington Americas senior vice president and commercial director, noting that the Macallan is competing across categories with other luxury products. Illustrating the premiumization trend, The Macallan’s dollar value leapt 17% in the U.S. last year, Spalding adds, significantly outpacing volume growth.

No-age-statement single malts like The Macallan Rare Cask ($300) and Highland Park Dark Origins ($80) have been thriving on-premise. Special bottlings such as the recent The Macallan Edition No. 1 ($90)—the first offering in a new annual series—have also provided a spark. At the ultra-luxury level, Macallan recently debuted the sixth and final release in its Lalique-bottled series, a 65-year-old whisky retailing at $35,000.

While times are tougher in general on the blended Scotch side, Edrington’s Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse brands have gained ground recently. Cutty Sark reached 130,000 cases on a 3% rise in the U.S. last year, while Famous Grouse grew 1.5% to 160,000 cases. “It’s no secret that the blends category is challenged compared with single malt,” says Spalding. Even so, Cutty Sark has benefited from its retro 1960s and 1970s messaging, and its higher-priced Prohibition offshoot ($30) has drawn new interest to the brand.

Beyond Scotch whisky, Edrington Americas’ portfolio also includes Brugal rum and Snow Leopard vodka. Brugal was up 5% to 64,000 cases in a difficult rum category in 2015, while Snow Leopard rose from 400 cases in its 2014 debut to 1,600 cases last year.

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