Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

Exclusive: Whiskies Lead Impact’s Spirits “Hot Brands” List

March 19, 2014

Impact’s annual “Hot Brands” spirits honor roll leaves little doubt that the brown spirits segment—led by whisk(e)y—continues to be the key driver behind gains in the overall spirits market. Out of 26 spirits brands that earned Impact Hot Brand honors based on 2013 performance, 10 were either whiskies or flavored whisk(e)y products. Bourbon alone fielded five entries on this year’s list, joined by one Irish whiskey, one Scotch and three whiskey-based liqueurs. The fast-growing moonshine category, sometimes called “white whiskey,” was also represented with two up-and-coming labels.

Whisk(e)y was by no means the only impressive category among Hot Brand spirits. Vodka, with six brands, comprised nearly a quarter of the list, and Tequila saw three standout brands from its ranks make the grade. Imported rum placed two brands this year, while gin was represented by a sole entry.

Diageo North America and Beam Inc. earned the most Hot Brands on 2013’s spirits list with three labels each. Other major players—including Brown-Forman, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Sazerac, E.&J. Distillers and Proximo Spirits—followed with two labels apiece, as did upstart Minnesota-based marketer Crosby Lake Spirits Co.

To earn Hot Brand status, spirits brands must have achieved double-digit growth in each of the past three years, or they must be established brands with at least 15% growth, or top-10 volume leaders with at least 5% growth in 2013 and at least 15% growth since 2010. Significant new products also can qualify. The minimum volume requirement is 200,000 cases.

The full list and analysis of Impact’s spirits Hot Brands can be found in the magazine’s March 1&15 issue.

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