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Top seven best-selling speciality spirits

The continuing trend for bitter flavours boosted a number of speciality spirits in 2017 – but which brands led the growth of the category last year?

SB presents the world's best-selling speciality spirit brands
SB presents the world’s best-selling speciality spirits brands

As interest peaks in the after-work apèritif and the popularity of the bitter cocktail trend takes hold, the likes of the Negroni, Aperol Spritz and variations on the classic gin and tonic have helped to pave the way for growth in the speciality spirits category.

A large number of bitters producers reported steady single-digit growth in the year, meanwhile vermouth was hit by a dip in volume.

Pernod Ricard’s Ramazzotti bitters and Ricard anis brand also witnessed stagnant sales in 2017.

Gruppo Campari’s Aperol brand continued to shine, boosted by European markets and the US – prompting us to once again name the brand Speciality Spirits Brand Champion 2018.

Following our recently published Brand Champions 2018 report – an analysis of the spirits brands selling more than one-million cases annually – we run through the world’s best-selling speciality spirits brands on the market today.

Click through the following pages to discover the top seven best-selling speciality spirits 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.

7. Ramazotti

2017: 1.2m

2016: 1.2m

% change: 0.0%

Place last year: 6

The smallest million-case seller within the speciality spirits sector, bitters brand Ramazzotti bagged our Specialities Brand Champion title in 2015. The Pernod Ricard-owned brand witnessed stagnant sales in 2017, remaining at 4.6m cases.

Ramazzotti’s core expression is the Amaro Ramazzotti which is made with the same “secret” blend of 33 herbs and roots since its creation in Milan in 1815.

6. Campari

2017: 3.4m

2016: 3.3m

% change: 4.3%

Place last year: 5

Gruppo Campari’s namesake bitters brand witnessed a slight growth of 4.3% in 2017.

In the company’s 2017 full-year, Campari was up 9.8% organically and enjoyed a “very good performance” in the US, France, Austria, Brazil, Japan, Argentina, Jamaica and Italy.

In October 2017, Campari recruited Guardians of the Galaxy actor Zoe Saldana to star in a new short film for the Campari Red Diaries 2018, which celebrates the talent of bartenders around the world.

5. Aperol

2017: 4.0m

2016: 3.4m

% change: 17.6%

Place last year: 4

This year’s Speciality Spirits Brand Champion, Aperol, experienced a double-digit growth of 17.6% last year – the highest rate of growth amongst the category’s million-case sellers.

Campari stablemate Aperol experienced strong growth in European markets such as Italy, Germany and France, as well as in the US, according to Gruppo Campari’s 2017 full-year results.

Boosted by the low-alcohol trend, Andrea Neri, Gruppo Campari’s managing director of Italian icons believes that the brand’s “potential for growth is huge”.

“The UK is a high­-potential market for Aperol because it is one of the fastest growing brands in the country,” Neri said. “Among other high-potential markets for the brand worth mentioning are Canada, Brazil and Australia.”

4. Ricard

2017: 4.6m

2016: 4.6m

% change: 0.0%

Place last year: 3

Pernod Ricard’s anis brand Ricard witnessed sluggish sales in 2017, remaining at 4.6m cases. In the company’s first half of 2017, Ricard declined by 8%, with “anis market difficulties” in France.

The aniseed-based spirit’s main markets are France, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland. Ricard contains star anise, liquorice extracts and aromatic plants, however its original recipe remains a secret.

3. Fernet-Branca

2017: 5.3m

2016: 5.1m

% change: 2.3%

Place last year: New entry

A new entry to our list is bartender favourite Fernet-Branca after brand owner Fratelli Branca disclosed its volumes for 2017. The bitters brand claims the number three spot on our list with a sales increase of 2.3%.

The brand could see its volumes increase in Ireland after Hi-Spirits secured a distribution deal for Fratelli Branca’s range in the country in February 2018.

Created in Milan in 1845 by Bernardino Branca, Fernet-Branca is a 39% abv digestif amaro.

2. Jägermeister

2017: 7.2m

2016: 7.1m

% change: 1.4%

Place last year: 2

German herbal liqueur brand Jägermeister has witnessed steady growth in the last five years to achieve 7.2m cases – a milestone it had reached once before in 2013.

Parent firm Mast-Jägermeister said its native German market “maintained its high sales” in 2017, while Eastern Europe showed “exceptionally dynamic” growth.

High-performing markets Russia, Czech Republic and Poland, and young markets Ukraine and Romania, recorded double-digit growth rate.

The company said it expects a “slight sales increase” in 2018 due to the “continued global development” of Jägermeister.

1. Martini

2017: 8.7m
2016: 8.9m

% change: -1.7%

Place last year: 1

The world’s best-selling speciality spirits brand, Martini, was also the only brand to decline across the category with a 1.7% drop in 2017.

Brand owner Bacardi extended its Riserva Speciale range to include a bitter designed to complement the Italian vermouth in a Negroni. Last year, the brand appointed a brand ambassador for northern Europe and launched a number of European activations to shine a light on the Riserva Speciale range.

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