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Heaven Hill Taps Whiskey, Tequila Trends With Up-And-Coming Brands

October 3, 2017

A major player within the U.S. Bourbon boom, Heaven Hill Brands has been driving growth with its flagship Evan Williams Bourbon brand—up 7% to 2.3 million cases last year—as well as a diverse portfolio of other whiskies spanning a range of price points. Among Heaven Hill’s more promising smaller whiskey labels are the Elijah Craig Small Batch and Larceny Bourbon brands.

Elijah Craig Small Batch (around $29 a 750-ml.) is a 94-proof Kentucky straight Bourbon aged between eight and 12 years. Late last year, the brand unveiled a packaging redesign, which features a taller bottle, updated wood closure and a label emphasizing “1789,” the year of the distillery’s founding. An Impact “Hot Prospect,” Elijah Craig Small Batch was up 21% to 85,000 cases in 2016, according to Impact Databank, and has roughly doubled in size since 2011. With similar growth this year, the brand could reach the 100,000-case mark.

Growing at an even faster pace is portfoliomate Larceny ($25), which also earned Hot Prospect honors on 50% growth for 2016. Launched into a dozen select markets in 2012, Larceny is a 92-proof wheated whiskey, targeted primarily toward male consumers ages 30-50. Despite being limited to a few markets until recently—the brand expanded nationwide just last year—it has surged to 60,000 cases in the U.S. Heaven Hill tells SND that Larceny has “enormous expansion opportunity” now that the brand has reached national distribution.

Meanwhile, with domestic brandies similarly on the upswing, Heaven Hill is seeing rapid growth for its Christian Brothers Flavored Brandy range. While the core Christian Brothers brandy lost ground last year (-3.1% to 1.1 million cases), the brand’s flavored offshoots collectively jumped by more than 30% to 60,000 cases. The Christian Brothers Flavored Brandy lineup (around $12) features Apple, Peach and Honey expressions.

Heaven Hill’s recent dynamism hasn’t been limited to brown spirits, however, as the company is also making a strong play in Tequila with its fast-rising Lunazul label. Lunazul’s progress has been driven by growing demand for accessibly-priced 100%-agave Tequilas, with the franchise’s Blanco, Reposado, Añejo and Primero labels carving out a niche within the $20-$30 segment. Last year, the brand—which has roughly doubled since 2010—reached 136,000 cases on 23% growth, putting it within striking distance of the 150,000-case threshold for 2017.—Christina Jelski

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