Top 25 Spirits Brands Post Impressive Rise In 2017January 2, 2018
While the U.S. spirits market is seeing increased contributions from craft and boutique offerings, early results for calendar year 2017 show that the industry’s major players remain very much in charge. The top 25 spirits brands in the U.S. increased volumes by an aggregate 4.6% last year to 104 million cases, and comprised nearly 46% of the total category, up from 43% two years ago. While the top 25 added 4.5 million cases last year, the rest of the market managed an increase of less than 500,000 cases. Overall, spirits volumes in the U.S. rose by an estimated 2.3% in 2017 to 227 million cases, according to Impact Databank.
The market’s two largest brands, Smirnoff and Bacardi, continue to face headwinds, both declining about 1% last year. But 15 labels in the top 25 grew, while nine declined and one was flat. Four brands in the top 25—Tito’s, Hennessy, Jameson and Sauza—were up by double-digits last year, accounting for the lion’s share of growth. Even among brands that have struggled to move forward in recent years there was impressive resilience, as no labels in the top 25 declined by more than 3% for 2017.
In vodka, which accounts for roughly one-third of the total U.S. spirits market, Tito’s ($20) continues to drive progress. In 2010, Tito’s was at about 400,000 cases. Last year, it reached 5.8 million cases on 40% growth, according to Impact Databank, and shows no sign of slowing down. By value, Tito’s is estimated to have passed the $1 billion threshold in the U.S. last year—territory occupied by only five other spirits brands.
In 2017, Tito’s passed Svedka and New Amsterdam in the rankings. New Amsterdam, which crossed the 5-million-case mark in 2016, followed that last year with a 6% jump to 5.36 million cases, marking a slowdown after averaging incremental growth of about 1 million cases annually from 2011-2016.
Meanwhile, Crown Royal (+7.5%), Jack Daniel’s (+3%), Jim Beam (+8.5%) and Evan Williams (+4.5%) all posted solid gains in the North American whisk(e)y category, as Jameson (+11.5%) continued to surge in the Irish whiskey segment. Flavored whiskies have been playing an increasing role in bolstering several major brand franchises—particularly Crown Royal, whose apple and vanilla extensions neared an aggregate 2 million cases last year. Jim Beam, and Jack Daniel’s, whose Fire offering has been making gains in the U.S. on-premise, also are showing strength in flavors. Also leading among brown spirits is Hennessy Cognac, which crossed 4 million cases on 11% growth last year and might have risen higher were it not for supply constraints.
Tequila remains ascendant in the U.S., with 100%-agave expressions still leading the way. Market leader Jose Cuervo appears to have taken a small step back last year, slipping 1.5%, but Patrón (+8%) and Sauza (+12%) were up significantly. Impact Databank estimates that the luxury Tequila segment ($40 and over a 750-ml.) rose by an impressive 7.5% last year to 3.5 million cases, with more than two-thirds of that volume coming from Patrón.
Impact will have a full report on the Top 25 U.S. Spirits Brands in the upcoming January 1&15 issue.Subscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.