Flavored Whiskies, Part 1: Top Brands Driving GrowthJuly 14, 2022
Flavored whiskies have shown consistent growth over the past 15 years, rising from just a blip in the overall whisk(e)y category to a dynamic beverage alcohol segment on their own. Last year, depletions of flavored whiskies in the U.S. market advanced 5.5% to 17.3 million cases, according to Impact Databank. That compares to just 2.7 million cases a decade earlier.
Sophie Kelly, senior vice president of North American whiskies for Diageo North America, notes the ongoing affinity for flavors among U.S. consumers. Diageo-owned Crown Royal, for example, launched its Regal Apple flavor in 2014 and it’s still seeing major growth. “Regal Apple continues to yield some of the strongest sales results among the Crown Royal family, as well as within the broader whisk(e)y category,” Kelly says. Regal Apple is now nearing the 2-million-case mark in the U.S., having added nearly 400,000 cases over the past three years. Portfoliomates Crown Royal Peach and Vanilla combine for another 1.2 million cases.
“The flavored whisk(e)y category is a large, incredibly dynamic category that is projected to take share from the North American whiskey category through 2025,” says Lisa Hunter, U.S. brand director for Jack Daniel’s flavors. “Jack Daniel’s flavors have outperformed many of our expectations.” The brand’s largest offering, Tennessee Honey, is now at around 800,000 cases in the U.S.
Topping the flavored whisk(e)y rankings by a wide margin is Fireball, the cinnamon-flavored Canadian whisky that has dominated the sector over the past decade. Part of the Sazerac portfolio, Fireball accounted for almost 40% of total flavored whisk(e)y depletions in the U.S. last year at 6.78 million cases, a 7.5% gain. Fireball is one of a handful of brands not connected with a straight whisk(e)y parent brand. Southern Comfort is another. The No.-3 flavored whiskey, Southern Comfort was purchased by Sazerac from Brown-Forman in 2016 for $544 million, in a deal that also included Tuaca liqueur. Last year, Southern Comfort held steady at 970,000 cases.
Tennessee brand Ole Smoky, ranked fourth, sports a broad range of whiskey flavors—15 in total—including offbeat options like Mango Habanero, Cookies & Cream, Root Beer, and Mint Chocolate Chip. The Ole Smoky flavor line, as a group, grew 36% to 861,000 cases last year. Skrewball Peanut Butter whiskey, part of the Infinium Spirits portfolio, has also become a key player. From a base of 27,000 cases in 2018 it rose to above 600,000 cases last year.
At Pernod Ricard USA, Jameson senior brand director Kelly Suhr says flavors can stretch a brand’s reach. “Consumers have embraced flavored whiskies as a fun way to explore the whisk(e)y category as a whole,” she says. “We’re seeing a high demand for flavored whiskies from curious spirits drinkers and non-whisk(e)y drinkers alike, making this a $1 billion-plus segment that is driving growth for the whisk(e)y category overall.” We’ll have more on the consumers fueling flavored whiskies’ growth in part two of this story.—Carol Ward
|U.S. – Top 10 Flavored Whiskies
(thousands of nine-liter cases)
|3||Southern Comfort||Sazerac Co||970||970||–|
|4||Ole Smoky2||Ole Smoky Distillery||631||861||36.4%|
|6||Crown Royal Peach||Diageo||585||705||20.5%|
|8||Crown Royal Vanilla||Diageo||535||525||-2.0%|
|10||Jim Beam Apple||Beam Suntory||414||375||-9.5%|
|Total Top 103||13,243||14,018||5.9%|
|1 Based on unrounded data
2 Includes flavored moonshine; excludes straight whiskey
3 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding
Source: IMPACT DATABANK