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The top 10 ‘up-and-coming’ spirits brands

Spanning brandy, whisky, Tequila, rum and gin, these are the brands on the verge of breaking through that all-important million-case threshold.

Last year The Spirits Business introduced an up­-and­-comers section to its Brand Champions report to explore those brands poised to break the magic million case mark – and those that have just dipped below, but may be set for a return. Graduates from the list include Deep Eddy, this year’s Vodka Brand Champion.

Who will follow? With 12% growth and case sales of 980,000, it seems a safe bet that Beam Suntory’s Cruzan will join the rum ranks in the coming 12 months. And it’s difficult to see a world in which William Grant & Sons’s trailblazing gin Hendrick’s won’t sustain its 20% growth trajectory and line up alongside the likes of Larios next year. Don Julio, too, should be another contender, although its 125% growth in 2015 has fallen flat.

What about those relegated from the Brand Champions group? If Amrut’s Silver Cup Brandy can ride out the challenges of the Indian market, there’s growth to be harnessed. Similarly, if compatriot White Mischief can hold firm and tap into a niche there’s scope to grow in the rapidly premiumising sector.

Click through the following pages to discover the world’s top 10 up-and-coming spirits brands, listed in order of their nine-litre case sales.

10. Windsor

2016: 0.60m

2015: 0.60m

% change: 0.00%

One of Diageo’s ‘Local Stars’, Windsor is a blended Scotch whisky predominantly consumed in markets across Asia – particularly Korea. Last year, the brand fought off emerging market turbulence to post stagnant sales, but failed to reach the highs of 800,000 cases last seen in 2012. In 2016, Diageo launched W Signature by Windsor, the “first” spirit drink from the Windsor brand. Bottled at 35% abv, and contains 17-year-old Scotch whisky.

9. Morpheus Brandy

2016: 0.68m

2015: 0.60m

% change: 13.33%

Owned by Indian drinks group Radico Khaitan, Morpheus Brandy is romantically said to be blended in the “land of maharajas, nawabs and burning sunsets”. It has witnessed a steady increase in volume sales over the last five years, and last year hailed an impressive 13.33% growth. The brand fared better than many of Radico Khaitan’s spirits, some of which saw dramatic losses in 2016.

8. White Mischief

2016: 0.70m

2015: 0.80m

% change: -12.50%

Owned by Diageo’s Indian subsidiary, United Spirits, vodka brand White Mischief has gradually been moving further away from the million case mark – which it last reached in 2013. The brand’s decline continued in 2016, when it lost an additional 100,000 cases.

7. Husky

2016: 0.70m

2015: 0.66m

% change: 6.06%

Husky Vodka is produced by Alcohol Siberia Group – one of Russia’s largest distillers. The brand has been steadily inching its way towards one million cases in recent years, and in 2016 sustained solid single-digit growth. No mean feat considering the growing prevalence of the black alcohol market in Russia.

6. Antiquity Whisky

2016: 0.80m

2015: 0.80m

% change: 0.00%

Another United Spirits-owned brand, Antiquity is an Indian whisky that has slowly increased its presence in its domestic market over recent years – building sales from 600,000 cases in 2012. Sales remained unchanged last year, but this could be attributed to numerous economic and political factors that impacted the Indian market, including demonestisation, a ban on roadside alcohol sales, and creeping prohibition legislation. The brand comes in two variants: Antiquity Blue and Antiquity Rare.

5. Silver Cup Brandy

2016: 0.83m

2015: 0.95m

% change: -12.84%

Indian brandy Silver Cup was the first product launched by Amrut Distillers when the company was founded in the 1940s. It may be a staple in the Indian drinks market, but the brand has experienced steep declines over the last five years, and its downward trajectory continued in 2016.

4. Admiral Nelson’s Rum

2016: 0.85m

2015: 0.84m

% change: 0.83%

Owned by US drinks group Heaven Hill Brands, Admiral Nelson’s Rum has been stuck around the 800,000 case sales mark for some time. However, while much of the rum category struggled to grow sales in 2016, the brand did manage to secure a marginal increase. Admiral Nelson’s future has been potentially dampened after Diageo won a trademark court case over its Captain Morgan rum. Diageo argued that Admiral Nelson’s rums “infringe” Captain Morgan trademark – the judge agreed and banned Heaven Hill from selling, distributing or importing the product in its current packaging in Canada.

3. Don Julio

2016: 0.90m

2015: 0.90m

% change: 0.00%

Don Julio is tantalisingly close to the magic million case mark, posting sales of 900,000 cases in 2016. The super-premium Tequila brand was acquired by Diageo in 2015, and the drinks giant pledged an investment of US$400,000 shortly afterwards to expand production facilities and agave farming capacity in Mexico.

2. Hendrick’s

2016: 0.95m

2015: 0.79m

% change: 20.63%

William Grant & Sons-owned gin brand Hendrick’s is riding the gin boom and storming towards the million case sales mark. The brand has added more than 600,000 cases to its sales tally in less than five years – and if current trends continue, it will mostly likely find itself on our diminutive list of gin brands shifting more than 1m cases annually.

1. Cruzan

2016: 0.98m

2015: 0.87m

% change: 12.16%

Cruzan rum is the spirits brand that is closest to achieving sales of 1m cases, and is now only 2,000 cases away from the milestone. After a small decline in 2013, Cruzan recorded impressive gains of 12.16% in 2016. Brand owner Beam Suntory says Cruzan is the fastest-growing rum in the US, where it is now the fifth largest rum brand.

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