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Flavored Whiskies Approach 10 Million Cases In The U.S. Market

June 28, 2017

Flavored whisky growth in the U.S. slowed a bit last year after its robust 2015 performance, which was marked by the breakout of Crown Royal Regal Apple. But the category continued its expansion, posting a rise of 8%, according to Impact Databank. That increase propelled the segment to nearly 10 million nine-liter cases, showing that flavored whiskies are still a key growth opportunity.

Sazerac’s Fireball is the U.S. market’s leading flavored whisky. At 4.6 million cases, Fireball accounts for more total volume than the next nine flavored whiskies combined. But the brand’s year-on-year growth has cooled lately, as more contenders like Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire and Jim Beam Kentucky Fire have entered the category. Still, Fireball has continued to win new consumers at an enviable rate the past two years, adding more than 650,000 cases since 2014.

After Fireball, the biggest flavored whisky success story has been Crown Royal Regal Apple. Crown Royal’s initial foray in the flavored whisky segment, Maple, fizzled after a fast start in 2012. However, Regal Apple was quick to gain critical mass, surpassing the million-case mark in 2015, its first full year on the market. Last year, it slowed significantly, but still grew another 2.2% by volume. Diageo followed with a limited edition Crown Royal Honey variant last summer and a new permanent extension, Crown Royal Vanilla, which has enjoyed a fast start since its October launch.

Also active in the space is Campari America, whose Wild Turkey brand was a pioneer among flavored whiskies with its American Honey label. Since Campari acquired Wild Turkey from Pernod Ricard in 2009, the brand has added American Honey Sting, a spicy-sweet version of the original American Honey made with ghost peppers.

For Brown-Forman and Beam Suntory, meanwhile, flavored whiskey performance has been mixed lately. While Brown-Forman’s Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey eked out growth last year, its Tennessee Fire offshoot fell 10.6% to 363,000 cases. Likewise, Beam Suntory’s flagship Jim Beam Red Stag offering lost ground in 2016, though stablemates Jim Beam Honey, as well as Jim Beam Apple—the brand’s most recent variant—have found success. After selling 139,000 cases in its first year, Jim Beam Apple more than doubled to 320,000 cases in 2016, equaling Red Stag.

“The pace of innovation continues as we see more new products entering the market—both new to world and extensions from established parent brands,” says Casey Nelson, brand director, Jack Daniel’s Flavors, Brown-Forman. “However, popularity seems to be limited to only a few key flavors—honey, cinnamon, apple, vanilla. Unlike flavored vodka, whiskey flavor extensions appear to be best suited for flavors naturally present in whiskey.”

For a full report on the U.S. Flavored Whiskies market, see Impact’s June 1&15 issue.

U.S. – Top Ten Flavored Whiskies
(thousands of nine-liter cases)
Depletions Growth4
Rank Brand Company 2015 2016 2015-2016
1 Fireball Sazerac Co. 4,375 4,595 5.0%
2 Crown Royal Regal Apple Diageo 1,250 1,278 2.2%
3 Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Brown-Forman 679 686 1.0%
4 Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire Brown-Forman 406 363 -10.6%
5 Wild Turkey American Honey Campari America 349 358 2.4%
Total Top 5 7,059 7,279 3.1%
6 Red Stag Beam Suntory 325 320 -1.5%
7 Jim Beam Apple Beam Suntory 139 320 +
8 Crown Royal Vanilla Diageo 286 +
9 Evan Williams Reserves1 Heaven Hill 218 233 6.9%
10 Jim Beam Honey Beam Suntory 210 230 9.3%
Total Top Ten 7,951 8,669 9.0%
Other Brands2 1,194 1,206 1.0%
Total Flavored Whiskies3 9,145 9,875 8.0%
^1 includes Honey, Cherry, Cinnamon, Fire and Peach.
^2 includes flavored moonshine
^3 addition of columns may not agree due to rounding
^4 based on unrounded data.Source: IMPACT DATABANK
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