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The world’s best-selling world whisky brands

The soaring global demand for American and Irish whiskeys means that the world whisky category is bigger and better than ever before. But labels from Canada and Japan are also counted among the best-selling world whisky brands.

The-world's-best-selling-world-whisky-brands
Click through the following pages to discover the world’s 10 best-selling world whisky brands

Following on from our recently published Brands Champions 2014 – where the exceptional category performers are identified among the million case selling brands – it’s clear that world whisky is one of the categories which saw the most sustained growth across the entire spirits industry last year.

The resurgence of classic cocktails has prompted a revived interest in the Bourbon and American whiskey industry, while Irish whiskey is one of the fastest growing industries in the drinks world and has received record high investment.

Whiskies from Canada remain popular among the blended malt fans and Japanese brands are continuing to expand their global footprints outside of their Asian motherland.

Furthermore, while Scotch may be constrained in terms of aged stocks and flavour innovation, world whisky brands are continuing to test industry boundaries and capture consumer interest.

This list looks at the best-selling brands across US, Irish, Canadian and Japanese whiskies, since Indian whisky is so large, it deserves its own category.

Based on figures outlined in The Spirits Business‘ Brands Champions 2014, click through the following pages to discover the world’s best-selling world whisky brands. 

10. Maker’s Mark

Maker's-Mark

2013 case sales: 1.4m
2012 case sales: 1.3m
Growth in 2013: 8%

Despite admitting that its stocks were running low in February 2013 Beam Inc’s Maker Mark Bourbon has stepped into the top 10 world’s best selling world whisky brands list with sales of 1.4m cases, an increase of 100,000 cases on 2012. The brand caused panic among its fans last year when it revealed plans to lower its abv in a bid to stretch supplies, but instead changed tactics to opt for a “barrel rinse” method. The move obviously paid off and the Bourbon brand reported its highest ever sales in 2013. These figures could be pushed ahead even further after a US$67 million expansion of the Maker’s Mark distillery is completed.

9. Canadian Club

Canadian-Club2013 case sales: 1.9m
2012 case sales: 1.9m
Growth in 2013: 0%

Canadian Club registered stagnant sales for the third year running in 2013. Owned by Beam Suntory Inc, the blended Canadian whisky has seen sales of 1.9 million cases since 2011, failing to reach the 2 million case milestone seen in 2009. First launched in 1858, the original Canadian Club whisky is aged for six years in white oak barrels. The brand has received the royal warrants of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, George VI, and Elizabeth II and has also featured in the offices of famed US TV series Mad Men. Canadian Club ventured into the flavoured whisky category earlier this year with the release of Canadian Club Spiced.

8. Black Nikka

Black-Nikka-22013 case sales: 1.9m
2012 case sales: 1.8m
Growth in 2013: 6%

One of two Japanese whisky brands featuring on this countdown is Black Nikka. Owned by Ashai Breweries, Black Nikka Clear is among the best known of Nikka brands with its familiar black label featuring the bearded “King of Blenders”. Although growth slowed slightly in 2013, the brand still managed to post an impressive 6% increase in case sales, reaching 1.9m – it’s most significant sales to-date. The name Black Nikka Clear derives from the fact that the brand was the first Japanese whisky to use entirely unpeated malt.

7. Black Velvet

Black-Velvet2013 case sales: 2.2m
2012 case sales: 2.2m
Growth in 2013: -2%

Owned by New York-based Constellation Brands, Canadian whisky Black Velvet has seen marginal declines or stagnant growth over the past five years, reporting a 2% sales decline to 2.2m cases in 2013. Black Velvet was established by the American firm Schenley Industries in Valleyfield, Quebec, in the 1940s, and was originally known as ‘Black Label.’ Its parent company Constellation Brands reported higher-than-expected quarterly revenue earlier this month as its beer sales continued to benefit from the acquisition of the US Corona distribution rights, however its spirits sales experienced a net decline.

6. Seagram’s 7 Crown

Seagram's-7-Crown2013 case sales: 2.4m
2012 case sales: 2.4m
Growth in 2013: 0%

After dropping 100,000 cases in 2009, Diageo-owned blended American whiskey Seagram’s Seven Crown has sold the same number of barrels – 2.4m – for the past three years. Seven Crown was once produced by the former biggest multi-nationals drinks company in Canada, Seagram’s, until the firm was bought in a consortium between Diageo and Pernod Ricard in 2000. In a bid to capitalise on the flavoured whiskey trend, Seagram’s launched a honey-infused variant, called Seagram’s Dark Honey.

5. Suntory Kakubin

Suntory-Kakubin2013 case sales: 3.1m
2012 case sales: 2.8m
Growth in 2013: 11%

Japanese whisky Suntory Kakubin saw the second-highest rate of growth compared to all others on this list, growing case sales 11% in 2013 to reach 3.1m. First launched in 1937, Suntory Kakubin, which means “square bottle” in Japanese, is described as a “classic example of lighter Japanese whisky from its era”.

4. Jameson

Jameson2013 case sales: 4.6m
2012 case sales: 4.0m
Growth in 2013: 15%

The only Irish whiskey brand to sell more than a million cases and this year’s World Whisky Brand Champion is Irish Distillers-owned Irish whiskey brand Jameson. Pushed ahead by soaring demand for Irish whiskey in the US, the brand is continuing to lead the growing category with its continued focus on innovation and a drive to further increase production capacity. The brand registered the most growth in the entire million case selling world whisky category, with a 15% increase in sales to 4.6m. The future remains bright as the Midleton Distillery in County Cork, which produces Jameson along with Irish Distillers’ range of single pot still whiskeys, completed its €100m redevelopment in July last year, doubling capacity.

3. Crown Royal

Cown-Royal2013 case sales: 5.5m
2012 case sales: 5.2m
Growth in 2013: 6%

The world’s largest Canadian whisky brand Crown Royal continued to dominate its category in 2013, growing sales a further 6% to 5.5m. The brand, now owned by drinks giant Diageo, was first launched in 1939 by a Canadian entrepreneur who wanted to present King George VI and Queen Elizabeth with a bottle of specially blended whisky to commemorate their journey across North America. However, Crown Royal has managed to stay current in the eyes of a contemporary consumer base with a range of exciting new releases, such as a maple-flavoured variant, an “extra rare” limited edition and, most recently, a bottling which celebrates its 75th anniversary.

2. Jim Beam

Jim-Beam2013 case sales: 6.9m
2012 case sales: 6.3m
Growth in 2013: 10%

Now iconic Bourbon brand Jim Beam has increased sales steadily year-on-year after witnessing a drastic decline of 800,000 cases in 2010. Demand has been driven by the brand’s popular flavoured variant Jim Beam Honey, which helped parent company Beam Inc report net sales growth of 8% in its half year financial results. The brand has also engaged in a range of innovations over the past year, continuing to capture consumer interest. An array of flavours including honey, maple, cherry and “hardcore cider” have been added to its Red Stag label, while its premium credentials were boosted with the launch of Jim Beam Signature Craft. It remains to be seen if sales will soar even further in the year to come following Beam Inc’s acquisition by Japanese drinks group Suntory, creating Beam Suntory Inc.

1. Jack Daniel’s

Jack-Daniel's2013 case sales: 11.5m
2012 case sales: 10.6m
Growth in 2013: 5%

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey has once again retained its title as the best-selling world whisky brand, selling a record 11.5m cases in 2013 – a 5% increase on its 2012 sales of 10.6m. The brand has been largely responsible for boosting parent company Brown-Forman’s annual sales, particularly due to the soaring popularity of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, which was the first flavoured whiskey brand to reach case sales of one millionThe group’s underlying net sales grew 6% in the year to 30 April 2014, to US$3.94bn, driven mostly by demand for American whiskey. 

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