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Impact’s “Hot Brand” American Whiskies Making Rapid Gains In 2021

September 14, 2021

While the American whiskey boom has been a phenomenon for many years running, it shows little sign of slowing down. Earlier this year, Impact awarded a total of 14 American whiskey labels as “Hot Brands” for their 2020 performances. Those same 14 labels are largely continuing on their strong upward trajectories so far in 2021, with all but five of them increasing volume by double-digits in control states in the year-to-date through July.

On a percentage growth basis, Tennessee-based Ole Smoky is leading the pack among this group in control states so far this year, with a 41% surge in volume terms. If the brand keeps up its momentum, it should easily cross the 600,000-case mark for the full calendar year. Best known for moonshine, Ole Smoky launched a new small-batch American whiskey this summer, James Ownby Reserve Tennessee Straight Bourbon, retailing at $40 and bottled at 47% abv.

Heaven Hill’s Elijah Craig is likewise making rapid progress in control states, up 34% through July, while Woodford Reserve from Brown-Forman and Basil Hayden from Beam Suntory are both up by about 24%. Elijah Craig recently debuted a new Toasted Barrel Bourbon ($50), finished in a second, new, charred, and heavily toasted cask.

Woodford is also planning for plenty more growth, with Brown-Forman earlier this year announcing a move to double the capacity of its Versailles, Kentucky-based Woodford Reserve distillery. Like Elijah Craig, Basil Hayden has been active on the new product front, recently debuting a Toast expression ($50). The 40% abv whiskey swaps out rye for brown rice in the mash and a portion of the final whiskey is finished in toasted oak barrels after its initial aging period.—Daniel Marsteller

Impact’s “Hot Brand” American Whiskies – YTD Growth In Control States
Brand Marketer Total 2020
Case Depletions1
2021 YTD
Percent Growth
In Control States2
Jim Beam3 Beam Suntory 6,253 3.1%
Woodford Reserve Brown-Forman 977 24.4%
Wild Turkey Campari America 810 8.9%
Skrewball Infinium Spirits 581 5.9%
Ole Smoky4 Ole Smoky Distillery 550 40.9%
Gentleman Jack Brown-Forman 489 3.1%
Basil Hayden Beam Suntory 393 23.8%
Four Roses Four Roses Distillery 335 19.6%
Ezra Brooks Luxco 330 -5.2%
Old Forester Brown-Forman 320 15.5%
Buffalo Trace Sazerac Co. 275 16.4%
Bird Dog3 Western Spirits 259 10.2%
Elijah Craig Heaven Hill 246 33.9%
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple Brown-Forman 200 2.2%
1 thousands of 9-liter cases
2 year-to-date through July
3 includes flavors
4 includes flavors and moonshine
Source: NABCA and IMPACT DATABANK © 2021
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