Top seven best-selling speciality spirits
The burgeoning low-alcohol movement and growing popularity of the apéritif occasion have helped take speciality spirits global. We look at the brands taking the category by storm.
Speciality spirits are finding their fame on the world stage as consumers start to become more health-conscious, paving the way for bitters and vermouth brands to shine as the star ingredient of cocktails.
Bright orange apéritif Aperol continued to witness double-digit increases, benefitting from trends relating to lower-alcohol serves, al fresco dining and sparkling beverages.
The category has also piqued the interest of the world’s biggest distiller Diageo, which acquired its first apéritif brand Belsazar in March last year.
Four out of the seven brands on our list witnessed declines, while Aperol, Ricard and Jägermeister had a more positive performance.
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 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 2019.
% change: -12.8%
Place last year: 7
Witnessing the largest decline among the million-case speciality spirits category was Pernod Ricard’s bitters brand Ramazotti, which saw sales fall by 12.8% to 1.0m. Continued declines could see the brand fall out of the million-case contingent completely this year.
Ramazzotti’s core expression is the Amaro Ramazzotti which has been made with the same “secret” blend of 33 herbs and roots since its creation in Milan in 1815.
% change: -3.5%
Place last year: 6
Fortunes were more mixed for bitters brand Campari, which registered a 3.5% drop to 3.3m cases.
During brand owner Campari Group’s 2018 full-year, the namesake brand grew by 5.1% organically driven by the Italian market and double-digit growth in the US, Germany, the UK, Russia, Nigeria, Canada and Jamaica.
In November last year, Campari Group hired Blade Runner 2049 actor Ana de Armas to star in a short film for the Campari Red Diaries 2019 as the apéritif brand celebrates 100 years of the Negroni.
% change: 2.0%
Place last year: 4
Pernod Ricard’s namesake anis brand reversed two years of declines to report a 2% increase to 4.7m.
During the French group’s half-year 2018/19 sales, Ricard grew 5% with growth driven by customer shipments 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.
% change: -9.1%
Place last year: 3
Dropping one place to fourth position on our best-selling speciality spirits list is bartender favourite Fernet-Branca. The bitters brand fell below the 5m-case-mark for the first time in five years.
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.
Fratelli Branca also launched its own US import company earlier this year to drive growth of its portfolio in the market, led by Fernet-Branca and Antica Formula.
Created in Milan in 1845 by Bernardino Branca, Fernet-Branca is a 39% abv digestif amaro.
% change: 22.5 %
Place last year: 5
Continued strong growth was also seen by Campari Group-owned Aperol, whose sales rose by 22.5% to reach 4.9m nine-litre cases. At this rate, Aperol should comfortably cross the 5m-case-mark in 2019. The brand is now the third best-selling speciality spirit in the world.
A former Speciality Spirit Brand Champion, Aperol, helped to boost Campari Group’s 2018 sales with an increase of 28.1%.
Aperol was driven by “continued solid growth” in its core markets – Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland – and “strong double-digit growth” in high potential and seeding markets including the US, the UK, Spain, France, global travel retail (GTR), Australia, Eastern European and Scandinavian markets, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
Earlier this year, Aperol released a new global campaign and brand platform, called Together We Joy.
% change: 4.2%
Place last year: 2
This year’s Speciality Spirits Brand Champion, German herbal liqueur brand Jägermeister, has witnessed steady growth in the last five years to achieve 7.5m cases.
Wolfgang Moeller, global chief marketing officer for brand owner Mast-Jägermeister, said the brand’s success has come because it was “always bold enough to explore its own ways in marketing”, and adds that positioning the bitter as a “versatile, unpretentious drink” has been key in appealing to its target urban consumers.
The German brand has also innovated in recent years, launching its Coolpack format to reinforce its signature ice-cold serve and developing the super-premium Manifest expression in 2017.
Mast-Jägermeister reported a 5% sales increase for 2018, aided by “exceptional growth” in Asia.
% change: -1.4%
Place last year: 1
Bacardi’s vermouth brand Martini continues retains the top spot of world’s best-selling speciality spirit. However, the past five years has seen the brand continuously decline and move further away from the case sales of 9.9m it once had in 2014.
The brand could see its volumes increase in the future as the trend towards health and well-being helps to shine a light on the low-alcohol category.
Martini is also targeting a younger demographic of drinkers with the recent launch of a new brightly coloured expression: Fiero. The product will benefit from a £2 million (US$2.6m) investment in its first year alone and is described as Martini’s “biggest new product launch in recent years”.