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American Whiskey Looms Large On Impact’s “Hot Prospects” List

October 13, 2020

Nine American whiskey labels recently received “Hot Prospect” honors from Impact, awarded to the most promising smaller brands in the industry. To make the list, brands must have grown by at least 15% for 2019, while also showing consistent growth in the two preceding years. Volume must be between 50,000 and 200,000 cases.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple tops the Hot Prospects American whiskey contingent after surging to 165,000 cases in just a partial year on the market. Brand owner Brown-Forman has high hopes for Tennessee Apple both in the U.S. and globally. “It’s very easy to drink and has a lot of global appeal, unlike some of the other flavored offerings in whiskey that are more U.S.-centric,” Brown-Forman president and CEO Lawson Whiting told SND earlier this year. The other flavored whiskey to make the Hot Prospect list is peanut butter-flavored Skrewball from Infinium Spirits, a young brand that has already established a cult following. Skrewball reached 162,000 cases in 2019 and Infinium believes it could potentially double in size this year.

Among unflavored American whiskies, Sazerac’s wheated Weller brand reached 146,000 cases, up 15%, earning its first spot on the Hot Prospects list. Like many of Sazerac’s releases, Weller is an allocated whiskey that’s in high demand, frequently commanding prices well beyond its modest SRP. Weller is joined by another wheated Bourbon, Heaven Hill’s Larceny, which returned to the list after increasing 17.5% to 121,000 cases. Heaven Hill recently told SND that Larceny’s Barrel Proof expression is contributing to the brand’s gains, and the company is also offering a private barrel program for Larceny in some markets.

Bacardi USA earned a Hot Prospect award for Angel’s Envy, its line of luxury and super-premium priced barrel finished whiskies. Angel’s Envy was up nearly 40% last year, according to Impact Databank. With similar progress this year, it could approach the 150,000-case mark. Brown-Forman is likewise prospering in the super-premium segment with Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. The first-time winner was at 64,000 cases, nearly doubling in volume since 2017. Though whiskey continues to see significant premiumization, the smallest Bourbon Hot Prospect, Beam Suntory’s Old Grand Dad 80 Proof, shows that interest is not only concentrated at the top end. The accessibly priced label reached 58,000 cases on 55% growth last year.

Ole Smoky is known for its moonshine—which won Impact “Hot Brand” honors earlier this year—but the distiller’s Tennessee whiskey is also rising fast, earning a place on the Hot Prospects roster. Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits’ rye-focused Redemption Whiskey label likewise made the grade. The brand reached 80,000 cases after growing nearly 20% in 2019, and has continued at a double-digit pace so far this year. Deutsch Family president Tom Steffanci recently told SND that Redemption’s rye-heavy approach has been key to building its presence in the mixology segment.—Shane English

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