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Exclusive: Tequilas, Whiskies Lead Impact’s Spirits “Hot Brands”

March 7, 2019

Impact’s annual “Hot Brands” list has been revealed at this morning’s 43rd Annual Impact Marketing Seminar in New York, with 30 fast-growing spirits labels earning honors.

The 2018 class of spirits “Hot Brands” draws from a variety of categories, but is predominantly composed of Tequila and Bourbon brands. Twelve of the 30 brands on the spirits list are whiskies, and 11 are Tequilas. In addition to the numerous Tequila and whisk(e)y entries, a total of four vodka labels earned Hot Brand honors for their 2018 performances, along with two Cognacs and a gin.

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 2018; 3) one of the U.S. market’s top 10 spirits brands with at least 5% growth in 2018 and at least 15% aggregate growth since 2015; or 4) a significant new product.

While whiskies and Tequila account for much of the list this year, the top spirits Hot Brand in volume terms is a vodka: Tito’s. Last year, Tito’s posted a volume rise of 22% to 7.4 million cases, and the brand has more than doubled its depletions since 2015, according to Impact Databank. Tito’s—which now ranks second only to Smirnoff among all spirits brands in the U.S.—has added more than 4 million cases in three years’ time. Its retail sales passed the $1-billion mark in 2017.

Following Tito’s in the Hot Brand ranks are four fast-rising whisk(e)y brands—Crown Royal, Jim Beam, Fireball, and Jameson—all of which continue to expand on their already mammoth bases. Crown Royal is now above 6 million cases in the U.S., including its flavored varieties, while Jim Beam (including flavors) and Fireball have surpassed 5 million cases. Other spirits Hot Brands above the 1-million-case threshold include Platinum 7X, Deep Eddy, and Hornitos.

The full report on 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.—Shane English

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