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Officer’s Choice overtakes Smirnoff as best-selling spirit brand

Indian whisky brand Officer’s Choice has overtaken Smirnoff Vodka as the world’s best-selling international spirit brand, figures obtained by The Spirits Business have revealed.

Officer’s Choice Indian whisky is now the world’s best-selling spirit brand, usurping Smirnoff Vodka

In 2014, Officer’s Choice, owned by Indian drinks group Allied Blenders & Distillers (ABD), saw a massive volume increase of 19% to 28.4 million nine-litre case sales. Meanwhile, Smirnoff, owned by the world’s largest drinks group Diageo, fell 2% to 25.6m cases.

The figures have been published in The Spirits Business’ annual Brand Champions report – a compilation of the world’s spirit brands selling over one million nine-litre cases a year.

Just last year, Officer’s Choice usurped Johnnie Walker, also owned by Diageo, as the world’s best-selling whisky brand across all sub-categories.

The brand has grown rapidly in recent years, adding 12.4m cases since 2010.

ABD has attributed the success of Officer’s Choice to its “righteous” positioning, new super-premium expression, Officer’s Choice Black, plus a “very emotional and inspiring” anthem that went viral, has given the brand “an unequivocal edge over competitors”.

“Officers Choice has a 37% share in the regular whisky segment,” said ABD CEO Deepak Roy. “Since the industry itself is declining, as market leaders the onus is on us to create excitement within the segment and grow the segment itself.”

Officer’s Choice, which has also been named Indian Whisky Brand Champion 2015 by The Spirits Business, narrowly beat United Spirits’ McDowell’s No.1 as the best-selling Indian whisky brand in 2013, a position which it retained in 2014.

Earlier this year, Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo, admitted that a recent pricing strategy on Smirnoff, at a time of increased saturation within the US market, had resulted in a loss of market share.

Furthermore, Matt Bruhn, global brand director of Smirnoff, said the global vodka category is “losing the game of publicity” against other categories, and must evolve to ensure consistent future growth around the world.

The 2015 Brand Champions report, which also includes a list of the Top 100 spirits brands by volume, is now available in the June 2015 issue of The Spirits Business magazine, as well as online. The data is not completely conclusive as a number of brands declined to report their sales figures.

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