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The world’s top 10 best-selling spirits brands

Global spirits volumes inched up 1.1% in 2018, according to Euromonitor, with categories such as Indian whisky, rum and soju dominating the leaderboard. But which are the world’s biggest brands?

Star performers: we count down the world’s biggest spirits brands
Figures from market research provider Euromonitor show total spirits volumes reached 2.42 billion nine-litre cases last year.

One category with a strong presence on our list is Indian whisky, with four of the 10 best-sellers hailing from the subcontinent. Meanwhile, brandy, rum, Scotch and vodka also make an appearance on our list.

While there were no newcomers to this year’s top 10, it was a positive performance for the world’s biggest brands with nearly all brands in growth except for one.

Following our recently published Brand Champions 2019 report – an analysis of the spirits brands selling more than one-million cases annually – we run through the world’s best-selling spirits brands on the market today.

Read on over the following pages to discover the 10 best-selling spirits brands in the world according to their nine-litre case sales per calendar year.

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. Bacardí

2018: 17.1m
2017: 16.8m
% change: 2.0%

Place last year: 10

This year’s Rum Brand Champion, Bacardi, maintains its 10th position on our best-selling list after reversing five years of declines to post a 2% increase to 17.1m cases. The brand is yet to climb back to the 19m cases it once had in 2013.

Ned Duggan, global senior vice­-president of Bacardí Rum, told The Spirits Business: “It’s no secret that rum has been on the decline for the past 10 years, but there’s been a renewed sense of interest in the category, partly because of what Bacardi has been doing. The reality is, as the largest player, the category wins if we succeed and there was a massive opportunity to address.”

The rum brand recently shifted its focus to more premium positioning, releasing two new products with higher price points in April last year. But will its premiumisation efforts pay off this year?

9. Johnnie Walker

2018: 18.9m
2017: 18.3m
% change: 3.5%

Place last year: 9

The world’s biggest-selling Scotch whisky brand, Diageo’s blended Scotch Johnnie Walker, is edging closer to the 19m-case mark after growing 3.5% last year.

During 2018, the brand released a host of new products including its first 50-year-old, a new blend made with liquid from silent Islay distillery Port Ellen, as well as its Game of Thrones-inspired White Walker by Johnnie Walker. 

This year, Johnnie Walker is “ramping up” it focus on Highballs with a new global campaign that aims to make Scotch and soda “the next big drinks trend”.

8. Tanduay

2018: 20.1m
2017: 19.5m
% change: 3.1%

Place last year: 6

Despite dropping two places on our list, Philippine brand Tanduay has held onto its spot as the world’s best-selling rum for the second year after reporting 3.1% growth in 2018. The brand has now surpassed the 20m-case-mark for the first time, creating an even bigger gap between it and competitor Bacardi.

The brand was almost neck and neck with Bacardi in 2017, but managed to experience an astounding increase to claim the top spot for the first time. Tanduay is the best-selling rum in Asia and is now available in the US.

7. Royal Stag

2018: 21.6m
2017: 18.7m
% change: 15.5%

Place last year: 8

Pernod Ricard’s Royal Stag Indian whisky moved one position up in 2018, when case sales increased an impressive 15.5% to 21.6m.

The brand surpassed the 20m milestone for the first time, bringing it almost neck and neck with stablemate Imperial Blue.

6. Imperial Blue

2018: 22.7m
2017: 19.0m
% change: 19.3%

Place last year: 7

Imperial Blue, also owned by French firm Pernod Ricard, achieved massive volumes in 2018. Like the company’s Royal Stag brand, Imperial Blue also exceeded sales of 20m cases for the first time ever.

The brand’s long-running campaign Men will be Men clearly resonated with the whisky’s 25­- to 40­-year­-old male target audience since sales have soared from around 1m cases in 2000 to 22.7m last year.

Imperial Blue has witnessed consistent growth year after year, leading the brand to be named last year’s Indian Whisky Brand Champion.

5. Emperador

2018: 25.3m
2017: 27.1m
% change: -6.6%

Place last year: 3

Dropping down two places on our best-selling list is Alliance Global Group’s Emperador. The world’s best-selling brandy continued to witness disappointing sales, which tumbled by 6.6% to 25.6m cases in 2018.

In the first nine months of 2018, Philippines-headquartered Alliance Global Group saw its revenue from the brandy business grow 8% year on year to Philippine peso 21.4 billion. The firm said its brandy portfolio is “fortified to sustain the present number one position in Spain, Mexico and the Philippines”.

4. Smirnoff

2018: 26.0m
2017: 26.0m
% change: 0.0%

Place last year: 5

Diageo-owned Smirnoff remains the world’s top-selling vodka brand after sales remained constant at 26.0m nine-litre-cases last year.

In July last year, Diageo announced it was investing in the brand to turnaround its declining sales. In the months that followed, the brand launched a celeb-packed campaign titled Welcome to the Fun% and launched new flavoured variants. Earlier this year, the brand targeted health-conscious drinkers with its range of zero-sugar infusions in the US to meet “consumers ‘evolving taste preferences”.

3. McDowell’s Whisky

2018: 29.0m
2017: 26.4m
% change: 10.0%

Place last year: 4

Once the world’s best-selling whisky brand, Indian whisky McDowell’s now takes the coveted spot of third best-selling spirit on our list.

Last year, the United Spirits-owned brand reversed its declines to post double-digit gains of 10% to 29m, bringing it closer to the 30m milestone.

2. Officer’s Choice

2018: 34.0m
2017: 32.0m
% change: 6.3%

Place last year: 2

Officer’s Choice remains the second best-selling spirit and the world’s best­-selling Indian whisky brand, shifting 34m cases in 2018 – a 6.3% increase.

Produced by Allied Blenders & Distillers, the brand has a 40% share of the regular whisky segment.

The company has sought to “aggressively enhance” the digital footprint of Officer’s Choice Blue Whisky to engage with millennials.

While the brand has maintained its top spot on the leader board for a number of years, it could be overtaken by rival McDowell’s in the years to come.

1. Jinro

2018: 78.0m
2017: 76.8m
% change: 1.6%

Place last year: 1

Korean soju brand Jinro has held on to its position as the world’s best-­selling spirit brand, boasting consistent growth over a number of years. Jinro’s volumes increased by 1.6% to 78m cases in 2018.

Jungho Hwang, president of Hite-­Jinro America, attributed Jinro’s success to overseas markets, which have “grown significantly”, as well as increasing domestic market share. Jinro’s most important region, Southeast Asia, has been boosted by the rise of K-pop and Korean food.

The brand is miles ahead of any other spirit brand and could be set to break the 80m-case mark in 2019.

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