The top 10 best-selling Scotch brandsBy Melita Kiely
To sell more than one million nine-litre-cases is an incredible feat, but to feature in the top 10 of any spirits category is an even more highly coveted position. These are the Scotch whisky brands at the top of their game.
Scotch whisky has come back with a bang following a few years of struggle in the not too distant past.
Exports for 2017 increased in volume and value, according to her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) data released by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).
Overall volumes grew by 1.6%, with 1.23bn bottles shipped abroad, while value grew by 8.9% to reach £4.36bn.
But across the category, which brands are selling the greatest volumes? We’ve worked through our recently published Brand Champions 2018 data to divulge the top 10 best-selling Scotch whisky brands in the world.
Click through to the following pages to discover the largest Scotch brands listed in order of their nine-litre case sales.
Data is listed to one decimal place for ease of reading, but the percentage changes are based on the full data supplied to The Brand Champions 2018.
10. Black & White
% change: 33.3%
Place last year: –
Edging into the top 10 best-selling Scotch whiskies is Diageo’s Black & White, which was also crowned Scotch Whisky Brand Champion 2018. The brand reported extraordinary growth last year, with volumes soaring 33.3% – meaning sales have more than doubled in five years. Its success could be attributed to Diageo’s decision in 2016 to put greater focus on its “mainstream” brands in emerging markets, including Black & White.
“We have big ambitions for Black & White,” said Bruno Scaranello, global marketing manager, Diageo primary Scotch. “We’re looking to build our top markets from stage one to stage two, and increase brand activation through above-the-line communications to create brand loyalty, love and meaning for consumers. We will also likely see new markets coming on board – watch this space.”
9. Label 5
% change: -0.4%
Place last year: 9
Holding onto its position of ninth place is La Martiniquaise-owned blended Scotch whisky Label 5. The brand experienced a minor decline in 2017, but has been working hard to generate greater awareness of the brand. In October last year, Label 5 launched a new international campaign to celebrate “group power”, called The Power of 5.
In February last year, the blended Scotch brand unveiled a marketing drive that allowed consumers to share a “virtual drink” with people around the world.
% change: -5.7%
Place last year: 8
It’s a non-mover for Bacardi’s Dewar’s, which remains in eighth position among the world’s best-selling Scotch whiskies. However, a tricky 2017 delivered declines of 5.7% for the blended Scotch brand.
Despite a dip in sales, Dewar’s has remained committed to age statements and released a 25-year-old expression in September last year, which had been finished in Royal Brackla casks. The expression replaced the brand’s no-age-statement Dewar’s Signature.
7. William Peel
% change: 3.3%
Position last year: 6
William Peel is a consistent performer in the million-case-selling brands category, and grew volume sales again in 2017 by 3.3% to reach 3.1m cases.
Brand owner Marie Briard Wine & Spirits (MBWS) revealed plans to adopt a more strategic focus on the mainstream market towards the end of 2016, designed to drive sales and offset “sluggish” macroeconomic growth.
6. William Lawson’s
% change: 5%
Position last year: 7
Moving up one spot in this year’s best-selling Scotch round-up is Bacardi-owned William Lawson’s. The brand clawed back sales in 2017 after a slight drop in 2016, bumping the blended Scotch brand back up to sixth place.
% change: -2.9%
Position last year: 5
Placing fifth among the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky brands is an enviable achievement. However, volume sales for Diageo’s J&B brand have been falling consistently for five years – dropping 2.9% again in 2017 to 3.4m nine-litre cases.
Earlier this year, Justerini & Brooks, the maker of J&B, brought distribution of the blended Scotch brand back in house after 21 years. The product is a blend of more than 40 Scotch whiskies.
4. Chivas Regal
% change: -2.3%
Position last year: 4
Fourth place in this year’s top 10 goes to Pernod Ricard’s Chivas Regal blended Scotch whisky brand, despite a marginal decline of 2.3%. But the brand’s fortune could well change by next year’s Brand Champions report, as Pernod revealed plans to invest more money in Chivas Regal to rebuild its status in China after admitting the company “made mistakes”.
The brand also endeavoured to attract a new audience of drinkers last year through its partnership with middleweight boxing champion Gennady Golovkin.
% change: 1.3%
Position last year: 3
Blended Scotch Grant’s, owned by William Grant & Sons, has had a bit of a rollercoaster ride when it comes to volume sales over the last five years, but managed to maintain another year of growth in 2017, up 1.3%.
And having recently announced a deal to enter local production in India for the first time, who knows what the future will hold if the brand can crack the complex emerging market.
% change: 3%
Position last year: 2
Clinging on to the title of world’s second best-selling Scotch whisky brand is Pernod Ricard’s Ballantine’s, which grew a solid 3% in 2017 to reach 6.9m cases. And what a busy year it’s been for the brand. In August last year, Ballantine’s launched a 30-year-old cask strength expression in travel retail.
The following month, the brand – known for its blends – broke rank and released a trio of 15-year-old single malts: Glenburgie, Miltonduff and Glentauchers.
1. Johnnie Walker
% change: 5.2%
Position last year: 1
When you’re the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky brand – and by more than 10m nine-litre cases to your closest competitor – you may ask, where is there left to go? Well, for Johnnie Walker it seems there’s a long way up left to climb. The brand reported a 5.2% increase last year, bringing its grand total to 18.3m cases.
Marketing initiatives behind the brand have been plentiful, such as the Johnnie Walker stores which have been rolled out to airports around the world, including the first luxury stores in the Americas last December.
A couple of months earlier, Johnnie Walker expanded its Blenders’ Batch range, the the release of a whisky matured in an ex-wine cask. It wasn’t the first addition to the Blenders’ Batch range last year either – in April, the brand released a Bourbon cask and rye-finished expression, and also bottled three limited edition whiskies in August.