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Impact’s Spirits “Hot Brands” See Strong Progress Continue In 2018

August 14, 2018

A total of 31 spirits brands earned Impact “Hot Brand” awards earlier this year, based on their 2017 performances. Halfway through 2018, the vast majority of the Hot Brand winners appear to be sustaining their growth, with more than two-thirds of the honorees up by double-digits in control states in the year-to-date through June. Overall, spirits volumes rose 2.2% in the first half in control states, which account for around 23% of the total U.S. spirits market.

With the brown spirits renaissance in full bloom, 10 whiskies were represented on the Hot Brands list. So far in 2018, eight of those brands are making impressive gains in control states: Fireball (+7.4%), Jim Beam (+10.5%), Jameson (+11.9%), Bulleit (+14.3%), Woodford Reserve (+23.1%), Pendleton (+7.7%), Tullamore Dew (+15%), and Ole Smoky (+37.2%). The only Hot Brand whiskies to decline in control states in the year-to-date were Ezra Brooks (-4%) and Crown Royal Vanilla (-0.6%).

Tequila’s Hot Brands also posted strong growth in control states in the six months through June. Beam Suntory’s Sauza franchise includes three Hot Brand winners: Hornitos, Sauza Silver, and Sauza Blue. So far this year, the higher-priced Hornitos appears to be continuing its expansion, rising by 22% in control states. Sauza Blue is also performing strongly (+21.5%), while Sauza Silver (-6.6%) has cooled off. Among other Tequila Hot Brands, it’s been full speed ahead, regardless of price point. El Jimador (+9.1%), Lunazul (+30%), Olmeca Altos (+32%), Don Julio (+32.6%), Espolòn (+46.8%), Cazadores (+11.5%), Jose Cuervo Tradicional (+11.5%), and Milagro (+14.2%) are all in growth mode.

While brandy volumes—including both Cognac and non-Cognac brandies—have also been expanding, it was a mixed picture for the category’s Hot Brand honorees in the first half. Rémy Cointreau’s Rémy Martin VSOP extended its growth with an 11.8% increase in control states, but Moët Hennessy USA’s Hennessy slipped 6.6% in the channel, as the Cognac leader continues to manage supply issues. Meanwhile, E.&J. flavored brandies—which were up 17% in calendar 2017—saw momentum stall in control states in the first half, falling 8.3%.

Among white spirits Hot Brands, Hendrick’s gin was up 13.2% in control states in the six months through June, building on its 10% growth in calendar 2017. In vodka, Tito’s continues to soar, up 36% in the first half, while Platinum 7X (+16.6%), Effen (+19.8%), and Deep Eddy (+22.5%) are also going strong.—Daniel Marsteller

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