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The world’s best-selling speciality spirits in 2023

2022 was a sweeping success for the speciality spirits category, with many brands reporting hefty increases in sales, however only a small selection were able to repeat the trick in 2023.

Many speciality spirits were unable to repeat their volume gains from 2022

While at-home cocktail making – where bitters and vermouth are frequently used – is still on trend, the biggest growth in our list was seen by our 2023 Speciality Spirits Brand Champion, Aperol, which demonstrates that brands can’t rest on their laurels if they want to achieve consistency in success.

The Spritz seems like the cocktail for speciality spirits brands to target right now. In the US, CGA by NIQ has revealed that it’s now pulled ahead of the Espresso Martini as the country’s seventh most popular serve. Campari Group has a firm grip on this market through both Aperol and its namesake bitter Campari.

Low-and-no also provides an area of opportunity with the next generation leaning towards moderation and wellness gaining traction among younger consumers. The liqueur sector is already making inroads here, but perhaps speciality spirits can begin to follow their lead as well. Martini vermouth for one, has already entered the category.

Here are the biggest-selling speciality spirits brands in 2023, based on data from The Brand Champions 2024 report.

8. Lillet

Specialty spirits

2023: 1.2m

2022: 1.3m

% change: -4.8%

Place last year: 8

Lillet is the first of Pernod Ricard’s three speciality spirits brands that failed to replicate its strong performance in 2022. After seeing major success with a 24.8% rise in 2022, the wine-based apéritif suffered a steep 4.8% drop – from 1.3m cases to 1.2m cases – in 2023.

Putting 2022 aside though, last year’s figure is still higher for the brand than in 2020 and 2021, so Pernod’s may not be too concerned just yet.

7. Ramazzotti

2023: 1.2m

2022: 1.5m

% change: -15.1%

Place last year: 7

Oh Ramazzotti, you might want to look away… After 2022’s remarkable 15.9% growth, it seemed the brand was on its way up, however in 2023, it went the opposite direction with a drop of 15.1%. It appears Aperol and Campari took over for Italian bitter supremacy.

No doubt for next year owner Pernod Ricard is already looking at how to make sure it isn’t a case of one step forward, two steps back for one of the oldest amaro houses in Italy.

6. Orijin Bitters

Speciality spirits

2023: 2.3m

2022: 2.4m

% change: -4.7%

Place last year: 6

Yet another declining brand in 2023 was Orijin Bitters. Diageo’s feature bitters took a 4.7% tumble last year, declining from 2.4m to 2.3m cases.

Still, on the positive side, the numbers are greater than pre-pandemic levels and this marks the fifth successive year – since Brand Champions began – that the brand has surpassed one million nine-litre cases sold.

5. Ricard

speciality spirits

2023: 4.2m

2022: 4.6m

% change: -8.6%

Place last year: 4

Representing pastis and the only anise on the list, Ricard was another of Pernod’s brands to file 2023 away as a difficult year. In contrast to 6.9% growth in 2022, the brand registered a decline of 8.6% in 2023 – and lost out on the fourth-place spot by 400,000 cases.

4. Campari

speciality spirits

2023: 4.6m

2022: 4.5m

% change: 2.3%

Place last year: 5

Bitter flavours are getting a lot of love in the bar world and the Negroni remains at the centre of attention. Campari Group’s namesake brand’s 2023 volume sales back this up – and, while it’s not at Aperol levels yet, it too seems to be riding the aperitivo hour wave.

The 2.3% rise makes for honest work and the brand’s results in the fourth quarter of 2023 stood out in particular where it rose by 10.7%, bolstered by Italy, the US, Brazil and Germany.

Although we don’t have a crystal ball, going by its results at the end of last year, we’d suggest another improved performance for 2024 could be on the cards.

3. Jägermeister

2023: 9.2m

2022: 9.4m

% change: -2.0%

Place last year: 2

German giant Jägermeister won’t be looking back on 2023 in a hurry. It fell by 2.0% and lost its place as the biggest-selling bitters brand to Aperol.

While it might have been usurped, the herbal liqueur did still manage to keep its head above the 9m-case mark. Plus, its expansion in global travel and willingness to innovate is a sign it’s up for the battle to reclaim its old position.

Perhaps consumers being able to pronounce its name might also help too…

2. Aperol

Aperol Campari Group

2023: 9.6m

2022: 8.8m

% change: 9.6%

Place last year: 3

Long live the Spritz, or so says Aperol after a statement-making 2023. The Campari Group-owned brand knocked Jägermeister from its throne to become the best-selling aperitif with 9.6m cases sold – a 9.6% increase on the year before. This also earned it the title of Speciality Spirits Brand Champion for the third year in a row.

Julka Villa, group head of marketing at Campari Group, said shifting Aperol’s appeal beyond the summer months as a year-round drink, achieved through presenting it in après­-ski-style settings and the winter season, played a large part in the brand “taking ownership” of the ‘Aperitivo occasion’ in Europe.

The brand’s bottle being visible nearly everywhere has certainly helped its cause – from summer rooftops to ski slopes and sporting events – and Campari Group’s decision to significantly boost production capabilities is a warning sign to the chasing pack below that it’s only going to get bigger.

1. Martini Vermouth

speciality spirits

2023: 9.6m

2022: 9.9m

% change: -2.8%

Place last year: 1

Despite a disappointing 2.8% decline in 2023, Martini Vermouth scraped over the line ahead of Aperol to maintain its status as the world’s biggest-selling speciality spirits brand.

The Bacardi-owned brand’s expansion in low-and-no seems to be paying dividends with drinkers becoming more mindful about consumption. It also recently launched a campaign that ‘celebrates the modern aperitivo moment’, focusing on the style and playfulness of the spirit.

Will this be enough to reign again next year? Who knows, but hitting 10m must surely be a target.

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