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The world whisky brands to watch in 2019

It’s been an exciting 12 months for whisky-producing regions outside of Scotland, Ireland and the US with an array of new and innovative products. We present the brands that are set to shine in 2019.

Although Scotch, Irish and American whisk(e)y may grab all the headlines, 2018 was the year other whisky-producing regions began shouting about their products.

Nigel Mills, CEO and co-­founder of England’s Lakes Distillery, says: “World whisky has higher rates of sales growth than Scotch whisky, with Japanese and Taiwanese leading the way.

“Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and India have demonstrated that good whisky can come from anywhere.”

In the UK, England’s Cotswolds Distillery had an impressive year when a crowdfunding campaign to support its expansion closed after raising £3 million (US$4.02m) in just one week. The distillery also listed its single malt whisky in UK supermarket chain Waitrose and in global travel retail.

Dan Szor, the company’s founder and CEO, says: “We are passionate about showing consumers that small distilleries like ours, outside the traditional whisky heartlands, are committed to a production ethos that champions the highest­-quality local ingredients.”

This year also saw Cumbria-­based Lakes Distillery launch its inaugural single malt whisky, in the process setting a record for the most expensive English whisky sold at auction, fetching £7,900 (US$10,500). The distillery also unveiled its Quatrefoil Collection this year, which will be a series of annually released single malts.

Meanwhile, Danish distiller Nyborg is embracing its location to make its products stand out. The upcoming Ardor Danish Oak whisky has been finished in casks made with oak sourced from the Erholm Forest, which is close to the distillery.

In Australia, while established brands such as Sullivans Cove and Starward seek to expand their reach, new players are entering the field. Wine producer Seppeltsfield Estate this year made a “strategic investment” in Australian Whisky Holdings, owner of Tasmanian whisky distillery Nant.

Further afield, some could argue that Japan’s year in whisky has been much more mixed. While sales are predicted to rise by 8.4% year on year, according to Euromonitor, stock shortages mean several of the category’s biggest players may have to implement contingency plans to keep up with demand.

As stock shortages hit age­-statement expressions, industry giant Beam Suntory announced plans to phase out its Hibiki 17 and Hakushu 12 offerings in certain markets in 2019. A spokesperson for the company told The Spirits Business: “As demand for our Japanese whisky portfolio continues to increase, Suntory has made strong investments to increase production capacity and ensure we are primed for continued long-­term growth and category leadership.

“In the meantime, because of supply constraints of certain aged whiskies, Hibiki 17 Year Old and Hakushu 12 Year Old will be discontinued in markets at some point after this year, and will have limited availability in the next few years.”

In his prediction for the coming year in whisky, Jordi Xifra Keysper, marketing manager for Beveland, says: “Different finishes will continue being a trend, the malts will continue growing and the different origins like Japanese whiskies will still be interesting.

Click through the following pages to see which brands we believe are ones to watch in the year ahead.

The Lakes Distillery

Cumbria-­based Lakes Distillery, which was formed in 2011 and began operating in 2014, set auction records this year when it released its first single malt whisky.

As the brand prepares to expand its portfolio and increase its production capacity further, more innovation could be on the horizon.


Launched in 2009 by David Vitale, Starward received the backing of Diageo’s accelerator programme Distill Ventures in 2015.

After expanding its Melbourne distillery to double its output, the brand is eyeing distribution growth in a number of markets, and this year appointed Pete Garraway as its UK brand manager.


As it tackles rising demand and stock shortages, Beam Suntory may face a tough year ahead for its Hibiki brand.

After announcing expansion of its production at the same time as cutting back distribution, Japanese whisky fans are waiting with bated breath to see how the brand can work around the constraints it currently finds itself in.

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