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Glenfiddich, The Balvenie Rising Fast Amid The Single Malt Boom

October 2, 2017

As single malt Scotch continues to expand in the U.S., William Grant & Sons’ Glenfiddich and The Balvenie are enjoying rapid growth, with both brands well outpacing the overall category. Glenfiddich—the third-largest single malt Scotch in the U.S.—was up 9.3% to 178,000 nine-liter cases last year, while The Balvenie hit the 100,000-case-mark on a 13% gain, according to Impact Databank. By comparison, total single malt Scotch volume grew by 4% to more than 1.5 million cases in the U.S. in 2016.

“We’re seeing a surge in 25-year-old-plus consumers coming into the Scotch category, and both The Balvenie and Glenfiddich are helping to recruit them into single malts,” notes Andrew Nash, vice president of whiskies for William Grant & Sons. “Also, our cousins in the Bourbon industry are doing a phenomenal job of educating younger consumers, who are progressing quickly and wanting to try Scotch whisky as well.”

Led by its flagship 12-year-old, Glenfiddich also offers a 15-year-old, 18-year-old, 21-year-old and Excellence 26-year-old, and has invested heavily in innovation in recent years. In 2015, Glenfiddich added to its core range with a Bourbon Barrel Reserve 14-year-old ($50), aged in American oak ex-Bourbon casks. Nash says the Bourbon Barrel expression has played a key role in welcoming millennials to the Glenfiddich portfolio.

Likewise, The Balvenie has carved out a following with its 14-year-old Caribbean Cask entry, which offers a slightly sweeter taste profile and has struck a chord with novice Scotch drinkers. Meanwhile, The Balvenie continues to target more experienced single malt consumers with releases such as its limited edition The Balvenie Peat Week ($99), which debuted in August. Made with 100% peated barley, the expression is a 2002 vintage whisky, aged for 14 years in American oak casks.

William Grant is also seeing ongoing success for its Monkey Shoulder blended malt brand, which combines the Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie malts and retails at around $30 a bottle. Monkey Shoulder, which surged by 31% to 45,000 cases last year, is making inroads both on- and off-premise. “Monkey Shoulder is performing well in the high-end mixology space,” says Nash. —Christina Jelski

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