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Top Spirits Brands Enjoy Strong First Half As Tito’s Surge Continues

August 30, 2016

The U.S. spirits market’s top 50 brands enjoyed a strong first half of this year, with aggregate growth of 4.4% in control states, according to NABCA, and a 3.9% gain in IRI channels.

The market’s top five brands—Smirnoff, Bacardi, Captain Morgan, Jack Daniel’s and Fireball—all achieved growth in control states during the first half. That was a welcome change for Bacardi and Captain Morgan, as both rums declined in control states in 2015 and have lost significant ground in the channel over the past five years. That’s also true of Absolut, which rose by 3.2% in control states during the first half while declining by just 0.5% in IRI channels in the 24 weeks ending June 12.

Meanwhile, Tito’s keeps firing on all cylinders. After total growth of more than 40% in 2015, according to Impact Databank, the vodka brand’s surge has continued this year. In the first half, Tito’s was up by 64.2% in control states and up 59.4% in IRI channels. Tito’s will likely finish the year as one of the U.S. spirits market’s top 10 brands—although it may have difficulty displacing any of the current top 10, as nearly all are in growth mode. E.&J. Distillers’ New Amsterdam vodka has joined Tito’s as one of the market’s hottest brands over the past few years, but it appears to be cooling off a bit. While New Amsterdam grew by 29.1% in IRI channels in the 24 weeks ending June 12, it was up just 2.2% in control states, and the control state channel has been integral to its success.

Like Tito’s, Hennessy and Jameson are continuing their hot streaks. The Cognac leader is up 30.3% in control states and up 15.9% in IRI, after advancing by 18% last year to pass the 3-million-case threshold. Jameson, by far the market’s top Irish whiskey brand, followed up its 21% bump in 2015 with a first half of 2016 in which it grew by 19% in control states and by 17.3% in IRI.

Tequila also stood out for its strong showing in the first half of the year. All four Tequila brands within the top 50 spirits rankings were solidly on the rise in control states, including Jose Cuervo (+6.6%), Sauza (+9.2%), Patrón (+15.2%) and 1800 (+3%). All but Sauza also grew in IRI channels. —Peter Zwiebach

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