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William Grant & Sons’ Glenfiddich, Balvenie Propel Growth In U.S. Single Malt Market

October 23, 2018

William Grant & Sons posted a sales increase of 12% to $1.5 billion for its most recent fiscal year, ended last December, with ongoing gains in the single malt Scotch category driving progress. In particular, the company’s Glenfiddich and Balvenie single malts are enjoying a strong run in the U.S. market, where both brands have expanded markedly in recent years. With U.S. Scotch consumers increasingly gravitating to single malts, William Grant tells SND it sees more growth in the offing.

Michael Giardina, director of the Glenfiddich brand, expects the Speyside whisky to continue to outperform the overall single malt segment. “Most people believe the single malt category will continue to grow at 4%-5% in volume through 2019, and I believe Glenfiddich should continue to outpace that rate,” he notes. According to Impact Databank, Glenfiddich has expanded by 44% in the U.S. over the past three years, cresting 200,000 cases. Only two other single malts outsell it in the U.S. market: The Glenlivet and The Macallan.

Glenfiddich’s flagship 12-year-old leads the brand, but the distillery has invested heavily in innovation. In July, Glenfiddich expanded its Experimental Series with Fire & Cane ($50), a non-age-statement blend of peated and non-peated single malts aged in ex-Bourbon casks before maturing an additional three months in rum casks.

The Balvenie, meanwhile, has averaged about 10% annual growth since 2014 and is now above 100,000 cases to rank fifth in the U.S. single malt category. In particular, The Balvenie’s 14-year-old Caribbean Cask release, which is finished in rum casks, has found traction with consumers. Recently, the brand extended its luxury tier with Doublewood 25-year-old ($600), a 43%-abv whisky that spent 25 years in American oak before finishing for three months in ex-Oloroso Sherry casks.

While its single malts are thriving, William Grant is also seeing success in the blended malt segment with Monkey Shoulder, which is aimed at cocktail occasions and new entrants to the Scotch category. Monkey Shoulder ($32) has been growing by strong double-digits and reached 77,000 cases last year. —Shane English

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