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“Hot Prospect” Whiskies Reveal A Wave Of Promising Contenders

October 14, 2019

With consumers eagerly exploring new offerings across the whisk(e)y landscape, both imported and American whiskies loom large on Impact’s latest “Hot Prospects” list. Overall, 15 whiskies earned Hot Prospect awards this year, out of a total of 41 spirits brands on the honor roll.

Among imported whiskies, the largest—and the largest Hot Prospect spirits brand overall—is Jameson Caskmates, Pernod Ricard’s line of Irish whiskies aged in craft beer barrels. From 42,000 cases in 2015, Caskmates reached almost 200,000 cases last year, according to Impact Databank. The range was recently extended with Caskmates Bale Breaker, finished in IPA-seasoned barrels, and Caskmates Revolution Brewing, finished in barrels seasoned with First City Chicago Pale Ale. Both retail at around $30 a 750-ml.

Pernod is also represented on the list with The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, which earned honors after nearing 60,000 cases. This year, the extension continues to rise, with Pernod noting that it’s recruiting consumers from outside the single malt category. Diageo has also looked to draw new drinkers to Scotch, with its Game of Thrones-themed White Walker reaching 79,000 cases last year. Diageo’s single malt label Oban was likewise named a Hot Prospect after jumping 20% to 61,000 cases. Oban’s core range includes a 14-year-old, 18-year-old, Little Bay, and Distillers Edition. Its latest offering is a distillery exclusive, Old Teddy, which sells at £150 ($182). Meanwhile, William Grant & Sons’ blended malt Scotch Monkey Shoulder has grown at a consistent 30% year over year since 2015 and hit 74,000 cases last year.

Other Hot Prospect imported whiskies include two from Canada and one—Suntory Toki—from Japan. Toki nearly doubled its volume last year as it grew from 33,000 cases to 60,000 cases. “Toki is helping us complement the strengths we have in Bourbon,” Beam Suntory president and CEO Albert Baladi recently told SND. Additionally, Crown Royal Salted Caramel and Crown Royal Blender’s Mash both made the list. Salted Caramel has been a home run for the Canadian brand, jumping to 123,000 cases last year. Blender’s Mash has seen solid progress as well and reached 76,000 cases.

In Bourbon, Heaven Hill’s Elijah Craig and Larceny brands depleted 135,000 and 103,000 cases, respectively, to earn Hot Prospect status. Larceny, which is at 46% abv and retails for $25 a 750-ml., recently unveiled an augmented reality smartphone app called Unlock the Rickhouse. Elijah Craig continues to garner critical acclaim, with its Barrel Proof expression being named Whisky Advocate’s Whisky of the Year in 2017.

Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits-owned Redemption has been picking up speed, rising 26% to 67,000 cases. Deutsch president Tom Steffanci notes that Redemption is planning a limited release aged in Plantation rum barrels, another Hot Prospect. Also representing American whiskey, High West, from Constellation Brands, sold 105,000 cases to earn Hot Prospect honors, and Jefferson’s—part of the Castle Brands portfolio recently acquired by Pernod—reached 80,000 cases. Beam Suntory, meanwhile, fielded two American whiskey Hot Prospects: Knob Creek Rye and Jim Beam Vanilla.—Danny Sullivan

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