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Exclusive: Impact Databank Projects Flavored Whisk(e)y Category’s Growth At 40% In 2015

December 15, 2015

The flavored whisk(e)y category entered the 2015 holiday selling season on fire. Catapulted by brands like Fireball and Crown Royal Regal Apple, the burgeoning category is on pace for 40% growth to nearly 9 million cases this year, according to Impact Databank projections. That jump follows last year’s 50.4% increase.

Nearly every leading flavored whisk(e)y brand is on the rise this year, including top-seller Fireball (33% abv, $16-$18 a 750-ml.). After hitting nearly 4 million cases in 2014, the Canadian whisky-infused brand from Sazerac is on pace to approach the 5-million-case mark by year-end.

But this year’s biggest surprise in flavored whiskies has been Crown Royal Regal Apple (35% abv, $25). With its U.S. volume near the 1-million-case mark as 2015 draws to a close, Regal Apple has now vaulted into second place in the category, behind Fireball. Diageo launched Regal Apple in November 2014 after noticing the core Canadian whisky entry was often served in a cocktail called the Washington Apple, made with De Kuyper Sour Apple Pucker Schnapps and cranberry juice.

Jim Beam debuted Kentucky Fire (35% abv, $18) last August, as it joined Red Stag, Honey and Maple in the Jim Beam flavored range. Beam’s flavored whisk(e)y range has been showing healthy growth this year, advancing by an aggregate 28% in IRI channels in the 52 weeks ending November 29, 2015.

Jack Daniel’s, meanwhile, has taken a more measured approach with its Tennessee Honey and Tennessee Fire variants (both 35% abv and around $22). Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey debuted in 2011 and has since posted impressive gains. And while its U.S. acceleration has slowed slightly, Tennessee Honey will be in positive territory for 2015 with a 4% gain to roughly 700,000 cases, according to Impact Databank. And Tennessee Fire is rising fast. The brand sold 77,000 cases in its launch year of 2014. For 2015, Impact Databank projects Tennessee Fire’s volume to surge to nearly 400,000 cases.

“Both Honey and Fire are recruiting new consumers into the Jack Daniel’s franchise—Jack Honey via African-American and Millennial female consumers and Jack Fire via Hispanic and Millennial men,” says Jack Daniel’s flavors U.S. brand director Casey Nelson.

Following the lead of flagship Jack Daniel’s, Tennessee Honey has scored success overseas. By year-end, Tennessee Honey’s export business will likely surpass its domestic sales.

For a full report on flavored whisk(e)y, don’t miss the December 1&15 edition of Impact.

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