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World Whisk(e)y Brand Champion 2019: Jim Beam

Jim Beam Bourbon: “Leadership role in cocktail culture”

Scotland may boast some of the oldest and India some of the biggest-­selling whiskies, but there is much more to the world of whisky than these two industry big-­hitters. With Irish whiskey brands posting continued growth, demand for Japanese whisky ever growing and production straining to keep up with the consumer appetite for American whiskey, the world whisk(e)y category is in a healthy place.

Taking the category’s Brand Champion title for 2019 is Beam Suntory’s American whiskey marque Jim Beam, which posted solid growth last year (9.8%) and has seen its sales increase by almost 3m nine-­litre cases since 2013.

“Jim Beam has seen exceptional growth across our established and emerging markets,” says Tom Bufalino, director global Jim Beam. “We’ve contributed to the category’s growth through our successful innovations and the sustained momentum of our flagship Jim Beam White Label product.”

Looking at the brand’s growth prospects, Bufalino says Japan is now its fastest-­growing export market and is on track to become its second biggest region by 2021. Jim Beam’s continued sales increases are, according to Bufalino, a result of American whiskey’s “authenticity” and its “versatile taste profile”.

He adds: “It’s mixable, which allows it to play a leadership role in cocktail culture, but is also equally enjoyable neat or on the rocks, especially when you get into the premium and super-­premium segments.”

In the wider American whiskey category, Jack Daniel’s remains the biggest seller and grew by 2.7% in 2018 to reach 13.3m cases. This year’s fastest­-growing brand was Maker’s Mark, which increased by 11.8% to 2.2m, while Diageo-­owned Bulleit posted promising gains and has doubled its sales to 1.6m in four years.

Pernod Ricard­-owned Jameson remains the top player in Irish whiskey, posting high single-­digit gains to reach 7.5m, while Tullamore Dew was the sub­category’s fastest­ growing million-­case brand.

Suntory posted gains for both Suntory Torys (16.1%) and Suntory Kakubin (7.1%) Japanese whiskies, which this year included the sales of the brand’s Highball RTD products.

*The Brand Champions data is listed to one decimal place for ease of reading, but the percentage changes are based on the full data supplied. All brand data is supplied in millions of nine-­litre cases.

World whisk(e)y (figures: million 9l case sales)

BRAND OWNER 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 %+/-­
Jack Daniel’s Brown­-Forman 11.7 12.2 12.5 12.9 13.3 2.7%
Jim Beam Beam Suntory 7.4 7.4 8.0 8.9 9.7 9.8%
Seagram’s 7 Crown Diageo 3.2 2.9 2.9 2.9 2.7 -6.2%
Evan Williams Heaven Hill Brands 1.9 2.1 2.3 2.4 2.6 4.9%
Maker’s Mark Beam Suntory 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.9 2.2 11.8%
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Brown­-Forman 1.3 1.5 1.5 1.6 1.8 6.8%
Wild Turkey (including Wild Turkey American Honey) Gruppo Campari 1.4 1.4 1.5 1.5 1.6 3.9%
Bulleit Diageo 0.8 1.0 1.3 1.5 1.6 7.6%
Crown Royal Diageo 5.3 6.2 6.8 7.0 7.3 3.4%
Canadian Club Beam Suntory 1.9 1.9 2.0 2.0 2.0 -0.8%
Canadian Mist Brown­-Forman 1.5 1.4 1.3 1.2 1.1 -7.9%
Jameson Pernod Ricard 4.9 5.3 6.2 6.9 7.5 9.3%
Tullamore Dew William Grant & Sons 0.9 1.0 1.0 1.2 1.3 15.4%
Suntory Kakubin (including Highball) Suntory Spirits 3.8 4.4 4.4 4.7 5.0 7.1%
Black Nikka Clear Asahi Breweries 2.0 2.4 2.7 3.0 3.2 6.7%
Suntory Torys (including Highball) Suntory Spirits 1.4 1.6 1.7 2.0 2.3 16.1%

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