Top eight best-selling local spirits brandsBy Nicola Carruthers
It was a mixed bag for spirits big in their home territories with many brands reporting declining or stagnant sales in 2019. We examine the performance of local million-case sellers across categories such as shōchū and soju.
Local spirits such as cachaça, pisco and soju are huge in their homelands, however the majority of brands are yet to expand their reach globally.
On our best-selling list, categories such as cachaça, shōchū and raki all reported sluggish sales, while soju and pisco brands were the only million-case sellers to post volume growth in 2019.
The world’s largest spirit category, baijiu, was a notable omission from our list as producers declined to reveal their volumes. Cachaça 51 also refused to disclose its 2019 volumes because of the current Covid‐19 crisis.
Following our recently published Brand Champions 2020 report – an analysis of the spirits brands selling more than one million cases annually – we run through the world’s best-selling local spirits brands on the market today.
Click through the following pages to discover the top eight best-selling local 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 2020.
% change: 0.0%
Place last year: New entry
Joining our best-selling list for the first time is Asahi Breweries’ shōchū brand, Daigoro.
After falling below one million cases in 2017, the brand returned to the milestone in 2018. However, this year could see the shōchū drop below the threshold as it reported stagnant sales in 2019.
% change: 4.5%
Place last year: 10
Chilean pisco Mistral continued its year‐on‐year growth streak in 2019 to take the title of Local Spirits Brand Champion for the second year in a row.
Mistral expanded its portfolio with the launch of Mistral Nobel Fire in October 2019. The brand is also looking to expand beyond its core South American markets.
% change: -18.9%
Place last year: 9
Raki brand Yeni witnessed its biggest decline in five years, dropping 5m cases to 2.5m in 2019. The Diageo-owned brand faced the biggest drop among the category’s million-case sellers, down 18.9%.
% change: 0.0%
Place last year: 7
Like its stablemate Diagoro, Asahi Breweries’ shōchū brand Kanoka has reported stagnant sales for a number of years. It has sat at 3.4m cases for at least four years, apart from a small decline in 2017.
Could 2020 see Asahi Breweries put renewed effort into driving growth for its shōchū brands?
% change: -3.2%
Place last year: 6
It’s been a mixed year for Diageo’s local stars with cachaça brand Ypióca also reporting a 3.2% drop in 2019. The brand reported its lowest volumes in five years and now sits at 4.5m cases.
In the company’s final six months of 2019, Ypióca’s reported net sales slumped by 2%.
% change: -2%
Place last year: 5
Shōchū brand Iicihko also continued to decline for the fifth year in a row, falling by 2% to 7m cases.
In March last year, distiller Sanwa Shurui launched a higher-ABV version of its Iichiko brand in the US market. Made with insights from leading bartenders, barley-based Iichiko Saiten has been “optimised” for cocktails, with a potent umami character and alcoholic strength of 43% – significantly higher than shōchū’s usual ABV of 25%.
Shōchū is fermented using koji, a type of fungus that has become increasingly popular in experimental bars. Sanwa Shurui is planning to capitalise on this trend with further line extensions for the US.
% change: -0.8%
Place last year: 3
Brazilian cachaça Pitú posted stagnant sales in 2019, with a 0.8% dip to 10.6m cases in 2019. The brand is yet to surpass 11m cases and came close to the milestone in 2016 at 10.9m cases.
The expression is made from fresh-cut sugarcane and undergoes short ageing in wooden barrels. Each bottle of Pitú contains a minimum of 5kg of fresh sugarcane, resulting in a “naturally full-flavoured, well-balanced” spirit.
% change: 10.6%
Place last year: 1
The world’s biggest-selling local spirit brand, Jinro soju, unsurprisingly remains in the top spot at 86.3m cases. It also retains the title of the world’s best-selling spirit brand.
The brand reported the biggest growth among our million-case local spirits, increasing by double digits. The brand hasn’t reported any declines in at least five years.
Jinro has far surpassed the 80m-case mark and it could comfortably reach 90m cases in 2020.