Impact Databank: Flavors Now Account For Nearly 30% Of U.S. Whisk(e)y CategoryMarch 23, 2021
While the whisk(e)y renaissance appears to have endured the loss of most on-premise business resulting from the pandemic, the unprecedented off-premise spark has generated heightened demand for at-home cocktails. It remains to be seen whether these trends will continue for the long-term, but for the whisk(e)y sector specifically, flavors continue to play an outsized role among drinkers staying home and making their own cocktails.
Many of the new generation of whisk(e)y drinkers first entered the category through the flavored segment. But the major players have calibrated their strategies so as not to overwhelm the market with too many flavors, as might have happened with vodka. The flavored sector remains a growth engine that’s broadening the brown spirits audience to include more women, Millennials, and Latinos. And while whiskies in general haven’t enjoyed the kind of explosive growth registered by Cognac or Tequila during the pandemic, flavors’ momentum has been accelerating sharply, thanks to a bevy of newer products.
Last year, flavored whiskies rose by an aggregate 14.5% to surpass 16 million 9-liter cases, according to Impact Databank, and they now account for nearly 30% of the total whisk(e)y category. By comparison, non-flavored vodka brands combined to outperform their flavored counterparts for the ninth consecutive year in 2020.
Flavored whiskies were launched by the major Bourbon players more than a decade ago, and while the category has received a big boost from Canadian competitors like Fireball and Crown Royal in recent years, much faster percentage gains were registered by American brands in 2020, according to Impact Databank. Most notably, Infinium’s Skrewball peanut butter whiskey has seen exponential growth since its launch in 2018.
Amid a flurry of new product activity, flavors have been a key catalyst in the ongoing Bourbon boom, expanding the appeal of storied brand franchises such as Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, and Evan Williams, while also generating growth for relative newcomers such as Ole Smoky and Bird Dog.—Natalia Razzo
|U.S.—Leading Flavored American Whiskey Brands
(thousands of 9-liter cases depletions)
|Southern Comfort||Sazerac Co.||960||970||1.0%|
|Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey||Brown-Forman||766||872||13.8%|
|Ole Smoky2||Ole Smoky Distillery||325||497||53.0%|
|Wild Turkey American Honey||Campari America||442||460||4.1%|
|Jim Beam Apple||Beam Suntory||362||415||14.5%|
|Jim Beam Honey||Beam Suntory||322||382||18.7%|
|Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire||Brown-Forman||401||382||-4.7%|
|Red Stag||Beam Suntory||289||339||17.3%|
|Evan Williams Flavors||Heaven Hill brands||277||302||9.0%|
|Jim Beam Peach||Beam Suntory||201||279||38.9%|
|Bird Dog3||Western Spirits||170||228||34.5%|
|Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple||Brown-Forman||164||198||20.7%|
|Total Leading Brands4||4,840||5,905||22.0%|
|1 Based on unrounded data.
2 Includes flavored moonshine; excludes straight whiskey.
3 Excludes straight whiskey.
4 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.
Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2021