Top seven best-selling speciality spirits brandsBy Owen Bellwood
The ever-growing popularity of apéritifs has bolstered sales of bitters and vermouth around the world. We present the speciality spirits brands taking the category by storm.
Rising demand for Spritz cocktails and innovative low-ABV serves has seen sales in the speciality spirits sector continue to rise, with the three top-selling brands all posting increases for 2019.
As consumer demand for bitters and vermouth brands rises, a host of high-profile bartenders and brands have entered the segment, further shining a light on these star ingredients.
This year, just two out of the seven million-case selling brands on our list witnessed declines, while Aperol, Martini and Jägermeister were among the top performers in our roundup of the best-selling speciality spirits.
Following our recently published Brand Champions 2020 report – an in-depth analysis of the brands selling more than one million cases annually – here, we run through the world’s best-selling speciality spirits brands on the market today.
Click through the following pages to discover the 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 2020.
% change: 8.8%
Place last year: 7
After declining sales in 2018, Pernod Ricard-owned bitters brand Ramazotti transformed its fortunes in 2019. An 8.8% sales increase for the brand saw it retain its position as the seventh best-selling speciality spirit after dwindling sales in 2018 threatened to drop the brand below the million case-selling mark.
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: 3.0%
Place last year: 6
Another brand to buck declining sales in 2018 and post growth for 2019 was Italian brand Campari. Campari Group’s namesake liqueur returned to 2017 figures of 3.4m after increasing its sales by 3% in 2019.
According to Campari Group’s financial results for 2019, the brand increased by 4.6% as it built on “positive international trends of previous years, despite temporary softness in core Germany”.
% change: -8.2%
Place last year: 5
Pernod Ricard’s namesake anis brand was one of only two brands to report declining sales in the million-case speciality spirits sector.
After registering growth of 2% in 2018, Ricard saw its sales drop to its lowest in five years, 4.3m nine-litre cases. Despite this, the brand held onto its position as the fifth best-selling speciality spirit.
Ricard contains star anise, liquorice extracts and aromatic plants, however its original recipe remains a secret.
% change: -14.2%
Place last year: 4
The brand with the biggest decline on our best-selling list this year was bartender favourite Fernet-Branca. After falling below the 5m-case-mark in 2018, the bitters brand saw its sales fall 14.2% to 4.6m in 2019.
The Fratelli Branca-owned brand could see its volumes increase in the coming months, after it launched its own US import company and appointed Steve Brecher chief executive officer of Branca USA.
Created in Milan in 1845 by Bernardino Branca, Fernet-Branca is a 39% ABV digestif amaro.
% change: 18.8%
Place last year: 3
Continued strong growth was seen by Campari Group-owned Aperol, whose sales rose by 18.8% to breeze past the 5m-case mark. With sales of 5.8m posted for 2019, Aperol comfortably retained its place as the third best-selling speciality spirit in the world.
Aperol helped to boost Campari Group’s 2019 sales and witnessed double-digit growth in its three largest markets – Italy, Germany, and the US – and “positive growth” across “high potential and seeding markets”.
% change: 13.3%
Place last year: 2
This year’s Speciality Spirits Brand Champion, herbal liqueur brand Jägermeister, witnessed steady growth in the last five years to reach sales of 8.5m cases, a 13.3% increase on 2018.
Several product launches helped to boost the brand’s popularity in 2019, including ‘hot and spicy’ Jägermeister Scharf and Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee. The latter was supported by a £2.5m (US$3m) campaign, called New Mix New Beat, designed to reinforce the brand’s “shot positioning” and leverage its credentials in music.
If the brand continue its growth, it could soon become the world’s biggest-selling speciality spirit brand.
% change: 2.3%
Place last year: 1
Bacardi-owned vermouth Martini continues its reign at the top of the speciality spirits sector with sales of 8.8m cases in 2019.
After declining sales plagued the brand for four years, dropping from 9.4m in 2015, Martini has begun to turn its fortunes around and increased sales by 2.3% in 2019. However, its crown could soon be taken by competitor, Jägermeister, which has nearly closed the gap after reporting 8.5m cases in 2019.
Martini’s growth could be set to continue in 2020 as it looks to take on Aperol with the release of its new Fiero vermouth, which the brand says is targeting a younger demographic of drinkers. The new product benefited from a £2m (US$2.6m) investment in its first year alone and is described as Martini’s “biggest new product launch in recent years”.