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Moët Hennessy Sees Ample Runway For Single Malt Range

January 12, 2022

For Moët Hennessy USA’s single malt Scotch brands Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, the future is bright, according to Allison Varone, vice president of emerging brands at the company. Varone told SND that the portfolio is trending up, with 2021 exceeding 2020 levels as well as those of pre-pandemic 2019. According to Impact Databank, Glenmorangie reached 133,000 cases in 2020, while Ardbeg hit 41,000 cases. Ardbeg enjoyed 12.5% volume growth in control states in the first 11 months of last year, and Glenmorangie rose 9.4% from a larger base.

“We’re particularly seeing that the big markets are still growing,” said Varone. “But we’re also seeing some pockets of the U.S. showing some nice results like Colorado, Virginia, Michigan, and New Jersey. There are a lot of markets in which the consumers are gravitating towards whisky.” The sustained growth is especially impressive considering the 25% U.S. tariffs imposed on single malt whiskies that hampered the category in 2020. Last June, the tariff on single malts was suspended for five years.

“The Glenmorangie business has been quite resilient. We’re seeing the extra mature range of La Santa, Quinta, and Nectar d’Or, and also 18 year and Signet enjoying some really great growth for several years now,” said Varone. On the innovation front, she mentioned the growing success of X by Glenmorangie, a new mixology-focused single malt that has gained traction in on-premise markets.

The 2021 holiday season saw Glenmorangie release a 13-year-old single malt finished in Cognac casks, as well as A Tale of Winter (46% abv/$100), a Marsala-cask finished 13-year-old single malt. While X is aimed at the on-trade, Glenmorangie’s limited releases are targeted at retail, with A Tale of Winter in particular intended to draw younger consumers interested in the category.

For Islay-based Ardbeg, Varone said multiple releases are seeing strong growth. “Uigeadail and Corryvreckan are doing well, An Oa is doing well. We’re seeing double-digit growth across those qualities,” she said. “We also have some limited releases that we do on Ardbeg every year and those sell out in sometimes a matter of days.”

Varone pointed to the success of Ardbeg Wee Beastie, a more approachable and younger Islay malt, as a path into the brand for consumers. Ardbeg figures to have increased expansion opportunities ahead, with more consumers taking to smokier Scotch flavor profiles than in the past. The brand took that trend head-on with last summer’s debut of Scorch, a malt matured in heavily charred American ex-Bourbon casks, retailing at $120.—Shane English

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