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Exclusive: Value Growth Among The World’s Top 100 Spirits Brands

March 12, 2015

Impact’s exclusive report on the world’s 100 most valuable spirits brands in 2014 reveals that the flavor craze that has contributed to vodka’s growth for over a decade has essentially shifted to whiskies and liqueurs. Bourbon and whisk(e)y-based liqueurs are now enjoying strong value gains, driven by the introduction of new flavors such as cinnamon and honey, along with upscale offerings. Sazerac’s Fireball ranked 35th worldwide, with estimated retail value of $770 million on volume of roughly 4 million cases. A year ago, Fireball ranked 90th, at around $340 million.

In all, Impact’s top 100 spirit brands by retail value recorded an estimated 1.2% increase to $86.6 billion, a significant slowdown from the 7% retail gain in 2013, and also lagging behind last year’s estimated global GDP growth of 3.3%. Vodka’s value within the top 100 experienced a 1.5% decline. Some premium spirits, including Scotch and Cognac brands, slowed due to their exposure in China, where the government has implemented austerity measures. The devaluation of the Russian ruble also significantly reduced the retail value of vodka brands relying heavily on their domestic market for sales.

Despite an 8.1% drop in retail value to $5.33 billion in 2014 on a 9% volume decline to 17.9 million cases, Johnnie Walker, including its Red, Black, Platinum, Gold, Blue and Double Black variants, remained by far the top spirits brand by value worldwide. The Diageo-owned Scotch whisky leader faced difficult economic and political terrain in China, Russia and Eastern Europe, volatile currency trading in Southeast Asia and competitive pricing in Latin America. Double-digit Johnnie Walker gains in African markets weren’t enough to offset losses.

Johnnie Walker’s 2014 sales were nearly $2 billion greater than the number-two brand, stablemate Smirnoff vodka, which was flat in both value and volume, at $3.38 billion and 25.6 million cases respectively. Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff combined to account for just over 10% of the total retail value of the top 100 spirits brands worldwide. Rounding out the top five most valuable spirits brands were Hennessy Cognac (+2% to $3.08 billion), Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey (+2.9% to $2.7 billion) and Bacardi rum (-2.4% to $2.46 billion).

The number of spirits brands with retail sales of at least $1 billion increased to 25 in 2014 from 22 in 2013, as Indian whisky Imperial Blue (Pernod Ricard), bitter Fernet Branca (Fratelli Branca Distillerie) and Jose Cuervo (Grupo Tequila Cuervo) all reached the billion-dollar milestone.

The full report on the top 100 spirits brands worldwide by value appears in the March 1&15 issue of Impact.

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