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Control State Data Shows Spirits “Hot Brands” Continuing Their Growth In 2017

August 21, 2017

Midway through the year, Impact’s 2016 spirits “Hot Brands” appear to be maintaining their strong momentum, with nearly all of them showing solid progress in control states through the first six months of 2017. While the control state spirits market was up 3% in the first half, the Hot Brand roster combined for a 14% jump, with 16 of last year’s 27 award winners rising at double-digit rates. Control states account for about 25% of total U.S. spirits volume.

Growth continues to be strong for Hot Brand whiskies Crown Royal, Jim Beam and Jameson. Including flavored offerings, Crown Royal leapt 12% by volume in control states over the first half of the year, while Jim Beam was up 15% and Jameson rose by 16%. Bulleit (+15%), Woodford Reserve (+17%) and Knob Creek (+11%) also continue to thrive in control states, while Tullamore Dew (+12%) is carving out impressive gains in an Irish whiskey category dominated by Jameson. Elsewhere in the brown spirits arena, Hennessy continued its strong growth from an already large base—rising by 17% in control states in the first half.

In the vodka space, control state progress has been strong for Tito’s (+51%), Deep Eddy (+48%) and Platinum 7X (+16%). By contrast, Cîroc fell by 11% and New Amsterdam saw growth slow to just 1.3%. But New Amsterdam has been faring better in other channels, growing by 8% in IRI data in the 28 weeks through July 16. Cîroc should get a boost in the second half from the recent launch of its new French Vanilla flavor.

Meanwhile, last year’s Hot Brand Tequilas continue to surge. Diageo recently expanded its Tequila stable with the acquisition of Casamigos, but its Don Julio brand made eye-catching gains in the first half, rising by 31% in control states. Brown-Forman’s El Jimador (+17%), William Grant’s Milagro (+13%) and Campari’s Espolòn (+47%) are also driving growth for the category.

Sazerac-owned Fireball, the third-largest spirits Hot Brand last year, has helped lead the total flavored whisk(e)y category in the U.S. past 10 million cases. After slowing a bit last year, Fireball was up 10% in control states in the first half. Tom Cole, CEO of Republic National Distributing Co., which handles Fireball across all of its 23 markets, told SND earlier this year that the brand continues to add volume. “Fireball is strong and growing,” Cole said. “We’ll sell more raw cases this year than we did last year.” —Daniel Marsteller

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