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Tequila Rises To Lead Impact’s Annual “Hot Brands” List

March 9, 2018

Impact has released its annual “Hot Brands” awards for the spirits category, honoring the fastest-growing spirits labels across the U.S. market. A total of 31 brands earned honors based on their 2017 performances, up from 27 brands a year ago, with the Tequila and whisk(e)y categories leading the charge. The current Hot Brand class counts 12 newcomers among its ranks, including seven new Tequila labels, a new Canadian whisky, a Bourbon, a moonshine, a Cognac, and a domestic vodka.

To meet Hot Brands’ stringent criteria, spirits brands must have a minimum volume of 200,000 cases, and also represent at least one of the following: 1) an established brand with double-digit growth in each of the past three years; 2) an established brand with at least 15% growth in 2017; 3) one of the U.S. market’s top 10 spirits brands with at least 5% growth in 2017 and at least 15% aggregate growth since 2014; or 4) a significant new product.

This year’s spirits Hot Brands draw from a host of different categories—vodka, Irish whiskey, Bourbon, gin, Cognac, and more are all represented—but the clear standout is Tequila, which boasts 11 brands on the list, making up more than one-third of the total. The largest Tequila to make the grade, Beam Suntory’s Hornitos, is also new to the Hot Brands roster this year. Other Hot Brand Tequilas above 300,000 cases include Hornitos portfoliomate Sauza SilverBrown-Forman standout El Jimador, and Bacardi’s Cazadores.

Although the number of Hot Brand whiskies is down slightly from last year, the category is still well represented with nine entrants from around the world, including Irish, Canadian, Bourbon, and flavored varieties, as consumers branch out to expand their brown spirits repertoires. Jim Beam is the largest whisk(e)y brand in the group, followed by Sazerac’s FireballPernod Ricard’s JamesonDiageo’s Bulleit and Crown Royal Vanilla, and Brown-Forman’s Woodford Reserve among others. From the fast-rising Cognac category, Moët Hennessy USA’s Hennessy and Rémy Cointreau USA’s Rémy Martin VSOP earned honors. While vodka has faced a challenging landscape lately, six fast-rising brands from the category met Hot Brand criteria in 2017, led by Tito’s, which is also the largest spirits Hot Brand overall at 5.8 million cases. Other Hot Brand vodkas above 300,000 cases include Gallo’s New AmsterdamSazerac’s Platinum 7X, and Heaven Hill’s Deep Eddy.

The full report on the industry’s Hot Brands for both spirits and wine appears in the March 1&15 issue of Impact. Beer’s Hot Brands will be announced in the July 1 edition.

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