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Exclusive: Impact Databank’s Ranking Of The Top 10 U.S. Spirits Marketers

September 30, 2013

After a half-decade characterized by titanic brand shifts, one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history and a renaissance in the whisky category, the U.S. market’s 10 largest spirits companies all displayed volume growth in 2012 for the second consecutive year. According to Impact Databank’s exclusive analysis, the top 10 U.S. spirits marketers added a collective 4.7 million cases last year, contributing more than three-quarters of total spirits industry volume growth and driving a 3.1% increase to 206 million cases across the overall U.S. spirits market.

The most recent five-year period was bookended by the moves of two of the spirits industry’s biggest brands to new marketers. With its $8.3 billion acquisition of Absolut in 2008, Pernod Ricard transformed itself into a major U.S. player, becoming one of the market’s top five suppliers. This year, Proximo Spirits’ appointment as the new U.S. marketer for Jose Cuervo has vaulted it into the top 10. Prior to the addition of Cuervo this past summer, Proximo ranked 15th among U.S. spirits marketers at 2.9 million cases. Now it ranks 8th and, at just shy of 8 million cases, has achieved the kind of scale that distributors and retailers find hard to ignore.

Despite the effects of the economic downturn, several of the industry’s leading players have expanded markedly over the past five years. Excluding Cuervo and its Margarita offshoots, Diageo was at 35.5 million cases in 2007—last year it reached 41 million cases. Beam—boosted by the whiskey boom as well as acquisitions like Pinnacle vodka—has risen by 5.7 million cases in the last five years, and Heaven Hill is up by 2 million cases. Meanwhile, Sazerac has catapulted to the number-three position through a series of deals for value brands from Constellation and White Rock.

But the highest percentage—and highest incremental—growth of any top 10 spirits marketer in 2012 came from a company better known as a giant among wine suppliers, E&J Gallo. Led by accessibly-priced New Amsterdam vodka, Gallo’s spirits sales leapt by more than a million cases last year. And Gallo isn’t alone, as several of its winemaking peers have opened spirits divisions of late. Attracted by the relative stability of spirits compared with wine’s heavy reliance on the cooperation of Mother Nature, Gallo and other wine companies are putting the leading spirits marketers on notice to be ready for an influx of hungry new competitors in the years ahead.


USA – Top 10 Distilled Spirit Marketers, Pro Forma
(millions of nine-liter cases)
Depletions Percent Market Share7
Rank Distiller/Importer1 2011 2012 Change2 2011 2012
1 Diageo North America2 40.4 41.0 1.3% 20.3% 19.9%
2 Beam Inc 22.5 23.2 3.1% 11.3% 11.3%
3 Sazerac Co Inc3 19.0 19.6 3.0% 9.5% 9.5%
4 Bacardi USA Inc4 17.9 18.1 1.0% 9.0% 8.8%
5 Pernod Ricard USA 14.5 14.8 2.0% 7.2% 7.2%
6 Heaven Hill Distilleries 10.1 10.5 3.5% 5.1% 5.1%
7 Brown-Forman 10.1 10.5 4.0% 5.0% 5.1%
8 Proximo Spirits5 7.6 7.9 3.6% 3.8% 3.8%
9 Constellation Brands 7.1 7.4 4.0% 3.6% 3.6%
10 E & J Distillers 5.3 6.4 21.3% 2.6% 3.1%
Other Marketers 45.1 46.6 3.3% 22.6% 22.6%
Total Distilled Spirits6 199.6 205.8 3.1% 100.0% 100.0%
1 excludes low-proof RTDs
2 adjusted to exclude Jose Cuervo, the rights to which were acquired by Proximo, effective July 1, 2013
3 adjusted to include brands acquired from White Rock Distilleries in 2011 & 2012
4 adjusted to include St Germain, which it acquired in January 2013
5 adjusted to include Jose Cuervo, the rights to which were acquired from Diageo, effective July 1, 2013
7 based on unrounded data


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