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High Noon Leads A Host Of “Hot Brand” RTDs

May 24, 2023

Twenty-two spirits- and wine-based ready-to-drink labels qualified as Impact “Hot Brands” this year, with consumers continuing to flock to the category. Of the 22 Hot Brand RTDs, more than half did not exist in 2019 and some launched only in 2021. Their collective volume in 2019 was just 3 million cases compared to 32.3 million cases last year.

The RTD list is led by Spirit of Gallo’s High Noon Sun Sips, which has made an unprecedented ascent to become the largest spirits brand in the U.S., overtaking Tito’s in just a few years. Its vodka soda line consists of flavors including lime, pineapple, and peach, among others, at 4.5% abv. This year, the brand has extended with Tequila seltzers, hitting national distribution this month. Made with blanco Tequila and juice, they’re launching in lime, grapefruit, passionfruit, and strawberry flavors. “Tequila continues to gain momentum and is one of the fastest growing spirits in the market, so it was a no-brainer to consider Tequila as an extension to our hard seltzer portfolio,” Spirit of Gallo vice president and general manager Britt West told SND. “Our target for High Noon Tequila is largely similar to that of our vodka-based offerings: adults in their mid-20s.”

Spirit of Gallo fielded another RTD Hot Brand with Liqs. The brand has its own identity, marketing both 750-ml. bottles and wine-style boxes of premixed cocktails, as well as sealed shot cups. At 255,000 cases last year, it’s much smaller than its juggernaut stablemate but is growing quickly, having roughly tripled its volume last year.

Another notable trend in the RTD business is legacy spirits brands launching canned cocktail offshoots made with the core product. Diageo North America found success with its Crown Royal RTDs, which include Whisky & Cola, Peach Tea, and Washington Apple, all made with Crown Royal Canadian Whisky. The line was up 60% to an even one million cases last year. Similarly, Brown-Forman’s Jack Daniel’s Canned Cocktails use Tennessee Apple, Tennessee Honey, and Tennessee Whiskey to make the flavors Apple Fizz, Lemonade, and Cola, respectively, all at 7% abv. The line was up 61% to 419,000 cases in 2022.

Pernod Ricard made the list for two of its brand extensions, Absolut RTDs and Malibu RTDs. The former sports vodka soda options at 5% abv and cocktail flavors at 7% abv. Absolut RTDs grew 28% to reach 407,000 cases last year. Malibu’s canned line meanwhile expanded eightfold to reach 419,000 cases.

Beam Suntory’s On The Rocks ready-to-serve label brings together spirits from across the company’s portfolio, like its Cosmopolitan made with Effen vodka, its Old Fashioned made with Knob Creek whiskey, and its Margarita made with Hornitos Tequila. On The Rocks grew 37% to 570,000 cases in 2022. Bacardi likewise launched Cazadores Tequila RTDs in 2021 to a strong reception. The brand soared by 52% to reach 296,000 cases across its Margarita, Paloma, and Ranch Water options.—Danny Sullivan

We’ll have more on RTDs’ Hot Brands in an upcoming issue.

Impact’s “Hot Brand” RTDs Above 1 Million Cases
(thousands of 9-liter cases)
Brand Company 2021 2022 Percent
High Noon Sun Sips Spirit of Gallo 8,835 16,400 85.6%
Cutwater Cutwater Spirits (ABI) 1,945 2,645 36.0%
Monaco Atomic Brands 1,910 2,551 33.6%
Buzzballz Chillers Southern Champion 684 1,164 70.1%
Beatbox Future Proof Brands 480 1,153 +
Crown Royal RTDs Diageo 625 1,000 60.0%
Long Drink The Long Drink Co. 467 1,000 +
Total 14,946 25,913 73.3%
*Based on unrounded data.
Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2023
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