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Brand Champion

North American, Irish & Japanese Whisky Brand Champions 2015


Jack Daniel’s has experienced impressive growth over the past year, spurred by its flavoured expressions

It’s no surprise that the majority of American whiskeys this year reported robust growth. Global thirst for Bourbon, rye and Tennessee whiskey catapulted the category’s largest brands forward, with Jack Daniel’s continuing to lead the charge at 11.7 million cases.

For JD, our World Whisky Brand Champion 2015, the likes of the US, UK, France and Germany delivered “significant growth” where Mark McCallum, EVP, president Jack Daniel’s Brands, argues “the enthusiasm and excitement for American whiskeys are driven by trends within mixology and pop culture”. But the brand is similarly gaining rapid traction in emerging markets, which McCallum says grew by “double digits” and represent a “big opportunity” for the brand.

From the results it’s clear to see that the American whiskey brands witnessing the largest growth have been those investing in premium line extensions and flavoured expressions over the past 12-24 months.

In fact, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey accounted for 1.2m cases of its parent brand’s total annual sales, making it the strongest-performing flavoured whisky on the planet.

However the Americana effect hasn’t quite taken hold yet north of the border, where all Canadian whisky brands reported either stagnation or a decline in sales. Category leader Crown Royal dropped by 200,000 cases during the 12 months, although a deal to distribute the brand in the UK for the first time through Marblehead may reverse the brand’s fortunes by the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, the only player in the Irish set, Jameson, continued to exude strength with a 6% sales increase during the year, signalling continued high demand for the Irish whiskey category. Nearest rival Tullamore DEW, owned by William Grant, continues to float just under the one million mark at 899,000 case sales, and may well surface in next year’s Brand Champions.

The same is true of Bushmills, which may take slightly longer to reach the milestone after changing ownership from Diageo to Cuervo International this year.

Over in Japan, Asahi’s Black Nikka whisky shot up by 11% during the year, which the group attributes to increased visibility from popular daytime TV show Massan, which depicts the lives of Yoichi Distillery founder Masataka Taketsuru and his Scottish wife Rita Cowen. The brand is still some way off gaining on category leader Suntory Kakubin though, which bounded ahead by 6% to 3.3m cases.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the rest of our Brand Champions 2015.

BRAND OWNER 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 % +/-
Jack Daniel’s Brown-Forman 9.9 10.6 10.9 11.5 11.7 2%
Jim Beam Beam Suntory 5.9 5.9 6.3 6.9 7.4 7%
Seagram’s 7 Crown Diageo 2.5 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4 0%
Evan Williams Heaven Hill 1.3 1.4 1.4 1.7 1.9 13%
Maker’s Mark Beam Suntory 1.0 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 4%
Wild Turkey Gruppo Campari 0.9 1.1 1.3 1.4 1.4 0%


BRAND OWNER 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 % +/-
Crown Royal Diageo 5.0 5.0 5.2 5.5 5.3 -4%
Black Velvet Constellation Brands 2.0 2.0 2.2 2.2 2.0 -9%
Canadian Club Beam Suntory 2.0 1.9 1.9 1.9 1.9 0%
Canadian Mist Brown-Forman 1.8 1.7 1.6 1.6 1.5 -3%


BRAND OWNER 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 % +/-
Jameson Pernod Ricard 3.2 3.8 4.1 4.6 4.9 6%


BRAND OWNER 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 % +/-
Suntory Kakubin Beam Suntory 2.8 2.6 2.8 3.1 3.3 6%
Black Nikka Asahi Breweries 1.7 1.8 1.8 2.0 2.2 11%


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