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Beam Suntory’s Sales Rise On The Strength Of Its Bourbon Range

November 4, 2016

Beam Suntory, the spirits arm of Japanese conglomerate Suntory Ltd., achieved a mid-single digit sales increase in the first nine months of 2016. In the Americas, Beam Suntory enjoyed what the company calls “strong sales growth,” driven by rising consumer demand for the core Jim Beam expression and the promising growth of Jim Beam Apple. U.S. volume growth was also fueled by Maker’s Mark, as well as the marketer’s high-end Bourbons, single malt Scotches, Japanese whiskies and brands like Courvoisier Cognac, Hornitos Tequila and Effen vodka.

Beam Suntory is the leader in the thriving super-premium Bourbon segment ($25 and above a 750-ml.), which has averaged double-digit advances for the past decade. The super-premium Bourbon segment (including Tennessee whisky) reached 4.2 million cases last year, according to Impact Databank, with Beam Suntory accounting for 46% of that total. Maker’s Mark, the super-premium segment’s biggest seller by far (nearly 1 million cases ahead of second-ranked Bulleit last year), grew by 5.6% to 1.41 million cases in 2015. Portfoliomates Knob Creek (+19.9% to 348,000 cases) and Basil Hayden’s (+46.6% to 111,000 cases) also enjoyed solid gains.

Beam Suntory’s Japanese whisky portfolio, meanwhile, continues to soar in the U.S. from a small, upscale base. While its Yamazaki single malt was down by 3% last year, the Hibiki blended range rose by over 160% to 17,100 cases and single malt Hakushu more than doubled to nearly 7,000 cases.

Beam Suntory is also making noise in the Canadian whisky category, where the focus is on $20-and-above rye expressions. The company debuted Canadian Club 100-percent rye in May, positioning it in the rye section at retail rather than with Canadian whiskies. It has employed the same strategy with Alberta Rye Dark Batch, which launched last year.

Meanwhile, Beam Suntory’s Japan business—Suntory Spirits Ltd.—saw sales rise by 3% in the first three quarters of the year. Jim Beam continues to enjoy explosive growth in the market, with volumes up 44% year-to-date. —Peter Zwiebach

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