It’s an exciting time for Scotch whisky with recent data showing impressive growth of global exports. Here, we present the brands that are leading the charge of volume sales.
The top 10 best-selling Scotch brandsBy Nicola Carruthers
Figures released by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, and quoted by the Scotch Whisky Association, revealed the total export value of Scotch whisky increased by 7.8% to reach a record £4.07bn (US$5.25bn) in 2018. In volume terms, 1.28bn 700ml bottles were shipped out of Scotland last year – a 3.6% increase compared with the year before.
Single malt exports experienced double-digit growth of 11.3%, reaching £1.3bn, while blended Scotch whisky exports hit £3.04bn last year.
But across the category, which brands are selling the greatest volumes? We’ve worked through our recently published Brand Champions 2019 data to divulge the top 10 best-selling Scotch whisky brands in the world.
Looking across our top 10, only two brands were in decline, with double-digit growth for Diageo’s Black & White blend.
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 2019.
10. Label 5
% change: -0.4%
Place last year: 9
Falling down one place to the 10th spot is La Martiniquaise-owned blended Scotch whisky Label 5. The brand reported a slight decline in sales, falling by 0.4%.
In July last year, Label 5 launched its Power of 5 World Tour to bring together five leading street artists to create graffiti artworks in five key locations around the world: London, Beirut, Brussels, Hong Kong and Mexico.
Earlier this year, Label 5 unveiled a new bottle design said to enhance its “modernity and impact” and increase brand visibility.
9. Black & White
% change: 14.9%
Place last year: 10
During Diageo’s six months to 31 December 2018, Black & White led the growth of the firm’s primary Scotch brands. The brand performed particularly well in Mexico, India, and in Columbia and Venezuela where it benefited from “route-to-consumer expansion”. According to Diageo’s fiscal 2018 financial results, marketing investment behind the brand could have also helped its growth during the period.
% change: 6.4%
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. The blended Scotch brand reversed its declines to record a healthy growth of 6.4% to 2.8m.
In October last year, Dewar’s launched a US$15 million global marketing push for its Live True campaign, which features a voiceover from Game of Thrones actor Iain Glen. The campaign re-launch is part of Dewar’s wider strategy to drive growth across its entire portfolio, with a “renewed focus on innovation”.
7. William Peel
% change: -3.2%
Place last year: 7
Maintaining its seventh place spot, William Peel blended Scotch whisky saw its sales fall by 3.2% to reach 3m cases.
Brand owner Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits (MBWS) has faced difficulty in recent months and put forward a rescue agreement.
For the year ended 31 December 2018, MBWS saw its organic sales drop 6.2% to €389 million (US$440m).
The group is currently aiming to improve profitability in the years ahead through its “strategic relationship” with COFEPP, which also owns French drinks group La Martiniquaise-Bardinet.
% change: -7.9%
Place last year: 5
Dropping one spot to sixth place is Diageo’s J&B brand. The whisky has been falling consistently for five years – dropping 7.9% again in 2018 to 3.2m nine-litre cases.
In May last 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.
5. William Lawson’s
% change: 4.8%
Place last year: 6
Moving up one spot in this year’s best-selling Scotch round-up is Bacardi-owned William Lawson’s.
William Lawson’s claims to sell around 700,000 cases in Mexico, up from just 40,000 10 years ago. Bacardi has been chasing Mexican millennials in the convenience channel, which is said to be growing by three stores a day.
4. Chivas Regal
% change: 5.4%
Place last year: 4
Fourth place in this year’s top 10 goes to Pernod Ricard’s Chivas Regal blended Scotch whisky brand, which increased by 5.4% to 4.2m.
Chivas Regal has reversed five years of declines to report a modest 5.4% growth in 2018.
In the first half of its fiscal year, French firm Pernod Ricard said that Chivas grew by 7% boosted by a relaunch in China and “strong” performances in Turkey, India and Japan.
The company is currently facing pressure from the arrival of activist investor Elliott Management Corporation, which swooped in and brought a 2.5% stake in Pernod Ricard worth almost €1bn (US$1.13bn) in December 2018.
% change: 0.8%
Place last year: 3
Blended Scotch Grant’s, owned by Scottish spirits group William Grant & Sons, witnessed a slight increase of 0.8% in 2018.
Grant’s unveiled a major brand overhaul last July, which included a packaging redesign, a name change from ‘Family Reserve’ to ‘Triple Wood’, and the launch of new expressions – such as Grant’s Triple Wood Smoky – while other products were discontinued.
This new angle for Grant’s is indicative of William Grant’s desire to boost the brand’s perception among consumers and give it a more “approachable” edge.
The Scottish group also launched its recently overhauled Grant’s whisky range in Africa, supported by a new TV campaign: Good Things Start with Three.
% change: 7.6%
Place last year: 2
Clinging on to the title of the world’s second best-selling Scotch whisky brand is Pernod Ricard’s Ballantine’s, which grew a healthy 7.6% to 7.4m in 2018.
In the first half of its fiscal year, French firm Pernod Ricard said that Ballantine’s grew by 8% with “strong growth” in Russia, Latin America, and the Asia-rest of the world region.
In September 2017, the brand entered the single malt whisky category with the launch of three 15-year-old expressions.
1. Johnnie Walker
% change: 3.5%
Place last year: 1
The world’s best-selling Scotch brand is, of course, Diageo’s blended Scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker. Storming miles ahead of any other category competitor, Johnnie Walker grew sales by 3.5% to 18.9m – edging ever closer to the 19m case-mark.
In Diageo’s six months to 31 December 2019, Scotch growth was driven by Johnnie Walker, which delivered a strong performance with net sales up 10%
In the US, the brand’s sales were boosted by the “successful” launch of White Walker by Johnnie Walker, which was launched as part of Diageo’s partnership with Game of Thrones‘ network HBO.