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New Products Fuel Growth For Flavored Whiskies

June 19, 2019

Last year, the total flavored whiskey category grew by 5.5% to 12.28 million 9-liter cases in the U.S. market—representing more than a sixfold rise from 2010—according to Impact Databank. The category’s growth rate has slowed to single-digit gains recently, but it continues to attract new consumers with a near-constant stream of new product introductions.

Amid an expanding array of contenders, Fireball remains the undisputed leader among flavored whiskies, and its growth continues. With a 6% rise in 2018, the Sazerac-owned brand crossed into 5-million-case territory by adding nearly 300,000 cases last year. Five years earlier, Fireball ($19) was already a category leader at just under 2.4 million cases, but it has since more than doubled in size. The cinnamon-flavored whisky now holds a more than 40% share of the category.

Diageo-owned Crown Royal can be credited with bringing flavored whiskey to the super-premium tier. Last year, Crown Royal Regal Apple shot ahead by 10.5% to more than 1.5 million cases. Speaking at Diageo’s Capital Markets Day in New York recently, Diageo North America president Deirdre Mahlan said, “Crown Apple plays a key role in recruiting new drinkers and opening new higher energy occasions for the brand portfolio, overindexing in ‘Drinks Out’ occasions and younger LDA consumers, females, and more multicultural drinkers than the full trademark.” This spring, the company launched Crown Royal Peach nationwide, which is recommended for drinking on the rocks or mixed with iced tea.

Jack Daniel’s flavor lineup has also become a juggernaut. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey grew by 5.4% in the U.S. in 2018 to 747,000 cases. Playing well with the millennial demographic, Tennessee Honey has also been performing well in on-premise channels. It’s joined by Tennessee Fire, which grew 4.9% last year to 406,000 cases. Phil Epps, global brand director for Jack Daniel’s at Brown-Forman, says the brand’s flavors meet specific consumer needs and occasions and continue to contribute to the growth of the overall franchise. Jack Daniel’s Apple will be the next extension coming down the pike.

Jim Beam was among the first to see success in flavored whiskey with its cherry-flavored Red Stag offshoot. Last year, Red Stag climbed by 9.3% to 274,000 cases. Meanwhile, Jim Beam Apple rose 2.5% to 361,000 cases, and Jim Beam Honey jumped 15% to just under 300,000 cases. “The flavored whiskey portfolio continues to contribute to the Jim Beam brand’s positive momentum,” says Rob Nelson, senior director of Jim Beam in the U.S. The Jim Beam flavored whiskey portfolio also includes Maple, Kentucky Fire, Vanilla, and the newest release, Peach.

Campari America’s Wild Turkey has maintained positive growth with its American Honey offering despite a flurry of new competitors. Last year, American Honey grew 6.1% to just over 400,000 cases in the U.S., and it has averaged growth of 3.7% since 2013. Elsewhere, Evan Williams Flavored Reserves posted a modest 1.2% increase last year to 253,000 cases. The extensive lineup includes Honey, Cherry, Cinnamon, Fire, Peach, and Apple, the last of which rolled out this spring.

Tennessee-based Ole Smoky has also targeted flavored whiskey with offerings including Salted Caramel, Mango Habanero, Caramel Apple, and Salty Watermelon, among others. In 2018, Ole Smoky’s flavored whiskies shot ahead 15.5% to a quarter-million cases in the U.S..—Kimberly Tharel

U.S. – Top 10 Flavored Whiskies
(thousands of nine-liter cases)
Rank Brand Company 2017 2018 Percent Change1
1 Fireball Sazerac Co 4,915 5,210 6.0%
2 Crown Royal Regal Apple Diageo 1,395 1,542 10.5%
3 Southern Comfort Sazerac Co 975 960 -1.5%
4 Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Brown-Forman 709 747 5.4%
5 Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire Brown-Forman 387 406 4.9%
6 Crown Royal Vanilla Diageo 412 405 -1.6%
7 Wild Turkey American Honey Campari America 378 401 6.1%
8 Jim Beam Apple Beam Suntory 352 361 2.5%
9 Jim Beam Honey Beam Suntory 254 292 14.9%
10 Red Stag Beam Suntory 251 274 9.3%
Total Top 102 10,027 10,598 5.7%
1 – based on unrounded data
2 – addition of columns may not agree due to roundingSource: IMPACT DATABANK
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