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While Tito’s Leads The Vodka Growth Parade, Other Brands Are Also In Expansion Mode

April 11, 2019

Although whisk(e)y and Cognac were the U.S. spirits market’s key drivers last year, vodka posted growth from a much larger base. Last year, vodka depletions rose by 1.5% to 78 million 9-liter cases, according to Impact Databank. Since 2010, the category has expanded by more than 15 million cases, or 25%. While Texas-based Tito’s has been at the center of that performance, it’s not the only vodka brand carving out impressive gains.

Deep Eddy, another Texas vodka, has developed a strong following. Last year, the Heaven Hill-owned brand reached 1.3 million cases on 10.3% growth, and has expanded by more than 1 million cases over the last five years. This summer, Deep Eddy is launching a campaign that includes limited edition packaging and a partnership with military non-profit Folds of Honor. Beginning May 1, Deep Eddy’s “Authentic American” bottles are rolling out nationwide at $18 a 750-ml.

On the import side, Ketel One has newfound momentum, bolstered by the launch of its 30% abv Botanicals range, which jumped out to 225,000 cases in only a partial year on the market. Noting that Ketel One’s sales vaulted by 22% in North America in the six months through December, Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes recently told investors, “The Botanicals are bringing new consumers into the franchise, and the core variant of Ketel One is in healthier shape.”

Stoli has also gone on offense lately, unveiling a new “Loud and Clear” campaign in 2018. The brand saw growth last year both in the U.S. and globally. In the U.S.—which accounts for 48% of its volume—Stoli rose by 3% to 1.8 million cases. Its global sales increased by 2% to 3.7 million cases.

Elsewhere among the big-volume growth drivers Sazerac has two vodka brands that have been on a steep rise in recent years. Platinum 7X continues to post solid growth, up 13% to 1.5 million cases last year. Portfoliomate Taaka slowed to a 2% increase in 2018, but grew by more than 50% between 2010 and 2017, matching Platinum 7X at 1.5 million cases.

But Tito’s continues to lead the growth parade. The brand has added over 4 million cases in the U.S. since 2015, without the benefit of flavor launches. Last year, Tito’s increased by 1.3 million cases, reaching 7.4 million cases, according to Impact Databank. Among vodkas in the U.S., only Smirnoff—at 9.1 million cases—still outsells Tito’s in volume terms.

Apart from the major players, a crop of promising brands is rising fast from smaller volume bases. Among those depleting fewer than 1 million cases is Prairie Organic, which is finding growth in the small but growing organic spirits sector. Last year, Prairie, owned by Phillips Distilling Co., reached 180,000 cases, and it has added 141,000 cases since 2013. Roc House Brands’ Recipe 21 vodka has also expanded markedly over the last five years, rising from 1,000 cases to 171,000 cases. Likewise, Western Son, another Texas vodka, reached 172,000 cases last year, and recently announced a $3 million investment to boost capacity to 750,000 cases at its distillery in Pilot Point, Texas. Beam Suntory-owned Effen, at 214,000 cases, and William Grant’s Reyka, at 143,000 cases, have also been in growth mode lately.—Daniel Marsteller & Shane English

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