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Single Malt Scotch On Pace For All-Time High As Consumers Trade Up

June 21, 2016

With all its top brands in growth mode, the single malt Scotch whisky category looks poised to mark a major milestone this year and cross 1.5 million cases in U.S. volume for the first time. Overall, the single malt segment climbed 7% in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank, capping a run in which it has grown by about 50% since 2010, and nearly tripled since 2000.

The rise of single malt in the U.S. has occurred as the much larger blended Scotch category has struggled to hold its ground. In fact, while single malt has tacked on almost 1 million cases since 2000, blended Scotch volumes have shrunk by about 1.6 million cases over the same period. The result has been a steady and significant expansion of single malt’s share of the total Scotch category.

The higher-end single malt segment—which averages about $52 a bottle in Nielsen channels, compared with blended Scotch’s average of about $20—now accounts for roughly 20% of Scotch whisky volume in the U.S. market, up from 7% in 2000. Meanwhile, single malt’s average price per bottle grew by $1.66 in Nielsen channels last year, while the average price of blended Scotches increased by about half of that, or $0.84.

A look at the top single malt players in the U.S. shows a rising tide lifting all boats. Each of the top six single malt brands in the market—paced by category leader The Glenlivet—displayed solid progress in 2015, combining for an average growth rate of nearly 10%. Among the standout performers were Glenfiddich and Laphroaig, which posted gains of 16% and 14% respectively.

“There’s more and more competition in single malt, but from a category standpoint, it’s a good sign that everyone is basically doing well,” says Glenmorangie brand director Maxime Balay, adding that he believes single malts will continue to rise as newer drinkers explore across different whisk(e)y categories. “I see the current interest in Bourbon and other whiskies as a long-term opportunity for single malt to draw in new consumers.” —Daniel Marsteller

U.S. – Top Six Single Malt Scotch Whisky Brands
(thousands of nine-liter cases)
Depletions Percent Change*
Brand Importer 2013 2014 2015 2013-2014 2014-2015
The Glenlivet Pernod Ricard USA 388 386 418 -0.4% 8.3%
The Macallan Edrington Americas 186 203 217 9.2% 6.9%
Glenfiddich William Grant & Sons USA 135 140 163 3.5% 16.4%
Glenmorangie Moet-Hennessy USA (LVMH) 108 121 127 12.6% 4.5%
The Balvenie William Grant & Sons USA 73 82 89 12.0% 8.9%
Laphroaig Beam Suntory Inc. 48 58 66 22.1% 14.0%
Total Single Malt Scotch Whisky 1,295 1,366 1,462 5.5% 7.0%
* based on unrounded data



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