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Top eight best-selling speciality spirits 2021

As speciality spirits burst back to life in the on-trade and remained prominent in at-home cocktail-making, the category saw plenty of activity in 2021.

The 12 months of 2021 were unique for those in the speciality spirits category; brands were able to capitalise on both consumers’ newfound fascination for complex cocktails in the on-trade, and drinkers continued to purchase bitters, anis and vermouths for at-home use too.

As a result, each brand in our speciality spirits round-up posted significant growth, with all but one seeing double-digit percentage booms.

We run through the world’s best-selling speciality spirits brands available on the market today, and consider how the brands have worked towards staying relevant in an increasingly competitive market.

This year’s speciality spirits Brand Champions’ report welcomed Diageo’s Orijin Bitters for the first time, and awarded Campari Group’s Aperol the Brand Champion title for the third time.

The Brand Champions 2022 report was released last month, outlining the sales of the world’s biggest spirits brands.

Scroll through to discover the top 10 best-selling speciality spirits of 2021, listed in order of their nine-litre-case sales.

Data listed is to one decimal place for ease of reading, but the percentage changes are based on the full data supplied to The Brand Champions 2022 report.

8. Lillet

Specialty spirits

2021: 1.0m
2020: 0.9m
% change: 16.1%

Hitting the 1m case sales mark in 2021, Lillet is a key part of Pernod Ricard’s speciality spirits arm: the French firm revealed that its speciality brands, including Lillet, saw a 28% boost in its third quarter of fiscal 2022.

The liquid is a go-to inclusion for a number of top cocktails across the world: bar manager Giuliano Morandin uses Lillet in The Perfect Ten, served at The Bar at The Dorchester in London, while Bathtub Gin in Los Angeles pours Lillet Rouge into its highly popular Fiero Negroni.

7. Ramazzotti

2021: 1.3m
2020: 1.1m
% change: 13.5%

The Italian digestivo bitter liqueur posted impressive growth of 13.5% in 2021, following a 0.0% change recorded in 2020.

Ramazzotti was awarded the title of Brand Champion 2021, as the only brand that didn’t fare a decline in growth in 2020, and it credited its new Ramazozotti Crema for keeping it afloat. The innovation was said to have attracted new consumers in the 34-to-45 age bracket, and it’s clearly a move that has continued to work wonders for the brand.

6. Orijin Bitters

2021: 2.1m
2020: 1.9m
% change: 11.3%

Diageo’s only feature on the best-selling list for speciality spirits, Orijin Bitters, has been hitting the million-case mark for some time.

This year, the brand saw 11.3% growth as it racked up case sales of 2.1m.

5. Campari

Speciality Spirits

2021: 3.9m
2020: 3.1m
% change: 24.2%

The brand has maintained a heavy presence in the speciality spirits scene recently. Its ready-to-serve Negroni bottling saw a revamp, and its owner Campari Group noted that ‘strong’ recovery of the European on-trade helped drive growth of Campari.

Campari Group also found that the bitters brand’s Soda bottling saw growth in the first quarter of 2022.

4. Ricard

Speciality Spirits

2021: 4.3m
2020: 4.1m
% change: 6.6%

The aptly-named Ricard from Pernod Ricard saw a jump of 6.6% this year, as its case sales climbed by 0.2m between 2020 and 2021.

The bottling is the only anis to make the list, and was created by Marseille native Paul Ricard in 1932, who put his name to the product because he was “sure of the quality of this pastis and proud of its unique taste”.

3. Aperol

Aperol Campari Group Speciality Spirits

2021: 7.1m
2020: 5.4m
% change: 31.9%

With Campari’s stablemate Aperol posting the highest percentage growth in 2021, it comes as no surprise that the bitters brand was handed the title of 2021’s Brand Champion by The Spirits Business this year. It was also awarded the gold medal in 2017 and 2018.

While its signature Aperol Spritz serve continues to see orders around the world in the on-trade, the brand managed to launch a number of activations during the winter months, including taking over ski resorts in order to rebrand the liquid as a serve for all seasons. Aperol is one to keep your eye on, as its said to be working towards “further growth” in the future.

2. Jägermeister

2021: 8.7m
2020: 7.0m
% change: 25.0%

Never one to hide from the limelight, Jägermeister has seen a staggering growth by a quarter in 2021, undoubtedly backed by its constant activity as a brand.

After switching distributors in Italy, investing in Dwanye ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Teremana Tequila, and reopening its 2022 scholarship entries, its unsurprising the highly active brand has racked up 8.7m case sales.

The brand scooped up the Brand Champion badge in 2020, when it was praised for its savvy innovation and a passion for reciprocating support to its followers – and not much has changed since.

1. Martini

2021: 9.7m
2020: 8.5m
% change: 13.1%

With the most case sales in 2021 at 9.7m, Bacardi-owned Martini vermouth has been on most drinkers’ radar as of late.

The brand was likely boosted by its release of three ready-to-drink products, including two alcohol-free aperitivo and tonic waters, in March last year. Plus, it has kept up on top of its marketing activity with campaigns celebrating friendships and drinking – one released last year in collaboration with photographer Greg Williams, and another this year.

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