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Top 10 biggest-selling Scotch whiskies in 2023

Among the 10 largest Scotch brands by volume in 2023, seven saw their volume sales decline. But, the category remains bullish about future growth opportunities.

Which Scotch whisky sold the most cases in 2023? (Photo credit: OurWhisky Foundation, Jo-Hanley)

After a stellar 2022, which delivered a record year for Scotch whisky exports, 2023 was more challenging – and those brands selling the highest volumes felt this acutely. 2022 was the year Scotch whisky exports exceeded £6 billion (US$7.3bn) for the first time, reaching £6.2bn (US$7.5bn) in total. This has been described as a ‘bumper year’ by some in the trade, meaning last year’s drop to £5.6bn (US$7.1bn) worth of exports came as no real surprise.

The Scotch whisky arm of The Brand Champions mirrors this behaviour in volume terms. The majority of million-case-selling Scotch brands reported a drop in volume sales in 2023 compared with 2022. Just three cited in the report were able to maintain or grow their volume sales last year. But which ones?

Below, we count down the 10 biggest-selling Scotch whisky brands from this year’s Brand Champions report, which is now available to read online.

All data has been listed to one decimal place for ease of reading, but the percentage changes were calculated based on the full data supplied. All data is recorded in millions of nine-litre cases.

10. Label 5

Label 5 Classic Black whisky2023: 2.4m

2022: 2.5m

% change: -1.6%

Place last year: N/A

Owned by La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, Label 5 saw a slight dip in sales last year from 2.5m in 2022 to 2.4m in 2023. The brand has been experiencing gradual declines in the past five years. In 2019, Label 5’s volume sales totalled 2.7m nine-litre cases.

The brand’s portfolio includes its flagship Label 5 Classic Black bottling, Label 5 Bourbon Barrel and Label 5 18 Years, to name a few.

9. J&B

J&B-Whisky2023: 2.5m

2022: 2.9m

% change: -13.5%

Place last year: 8

In 2022, J&B (which stands for Justerini & Brooks) was on the cusp of surpassing its 2019 volume sales once again. However, 2023 delivered a double-digit decline for the brand, bringing it to 2.5m cases.

The Diageo-owned whisky remains some way below its 2019 peak of 3.0m cases. Time will tell if it can redirect its sales back to growth in 2024.

8. William Peel

William-Peel2023: 2.7m

2022: 2.7m

% change: 0.7%

Place last year: 9

After a volume decline in 2022, William Peel did well to maintain its volume sales in 2023 with a marginal rise of 0.7%. In a sea of decreasing volume sales across the category, this was no easy feat.

William Peel is owned by Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits. In 2023, the parent company generated sales of €194.2 million (US$208.4m), representing a 7.2% rise on the year prior.

7. Black & White

Black-and-White-whisky2023: 3.2m

2022: 3.6m

% change: -11.2%

Place last year: 5

The Diageo-owned brand managed to remain in the top 10, but experienced a double-digit decline in 2023. The blended Scotch whisky remains above its 2021 level, despite the 11.2% decline last year.

6. Dewar’s

Dewar's 19yo scotch2023: 3.3m

2022: 3.5m

% change: -7.1%

Place last year: 6

In 2019, Dewar’s sold 3.0m nine-litre cases; last year, that figure was 3.3m, following a 7.1% drop compared with 2022. After a sales drop in 2020, the Bacardi-owned whisky had been on a positive growth trajectory year after year – until 2023. However, its volume sales remain above its 2019 level.

Activity from the brand last year included tapping into high age statements, with the release of its oldest age-statement whisky to date: Dewar’s Double Double 37 Years Old.

5. William Lawson’s

William-Lawson's-Scotch-whisky2023: 3.4m

2022: 3.5m

% change: -2.3%

Place last year: 7

Also part of the Bacardi portfolio, William Lawson’s has remained relatively steady over the past five years, with slight dips and increases in its volume sales. The 2.3% decline reported in 2023 put the whisky brand’s volume sales at 3.4m last year, down from 3.5m in 2022.

4. Grant’s

Grants-scotch2023: 4.4m

2022: 4.2m

% change: 3.4%

Place last year: 4

William Grant & Sons saw Grant’s volume sales hit the highest level in five years in 2023. Solid single-digit growth (3.4%) enabled the brand reach 4.4m cases last year. With a new CEO at the helm of its parent company, we could see a fresh push behind the brand in 2024.

3. Chivas Regal

Chivas Regal 18YO scotch2023: 4.6m

2022: 5.2m

% change: -12.0%

Place last year: 3

Last year was tough for Pernod Ricard’s Chivas Regal brand. The blended Scotch line fell back below the 5m-case mark following a 12.0% decline. Its volume sales in 2023 (4.6m) are now just above its 2019 level.

At the end of 2023, Chivas Regal released an advertising campaign to celebrate the ‘golden hour’ as the prime time to enjoy Chivas XV. The initiative was the first US-led national campaign from the brand. Could it be the push Chivas Regal needs to return to growth in 2024?

2. Ballantine’s

Ballantine's Scotch whisky x RZA Limited Edition2023: 8.2m

2022: 9.2m

% change: -10.5%

Place last year: 2

Holding tight to its second-place position is Ballantine’s whisky. However, it didn’t come without a substantial drop in volume sales last year. The Pernod Ricard-owned brand fell by around 1m cases in 2023 following a 10.5% decline. This put the brand at 8.2m cases in 2023 – significantly above its 7.0m cases in 2020, its lowest volume sales in the past five years.

Ballantine’s has been active in its endeavour to connect with consumers, and partnered with Wu-Tang Clan frontman RZA to release a vinyl record player in 2023. That partnership has continued into 2024, and activity such as this could help the brand return to growth this year.

1. Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker

2023: 22.1m

2022: 22.7m

% change: -2.7%

Place last year: 1

Diageo-owned Johnnie Walker remains vastly ahead of its nearest competitors, having sold 22.1m cases in 2023. However, it was among the declining brands (down by 2.7% compared with 2022). Its 2023 volume sales mean it is still far ahead of the 18.4m sold in 2019, and the drop to 14.1m in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Johnnie Walker’s eight-floor Princes Street visitor experience in Edinburgh, Scotland, is proving popular with tourists, and welcomed 359,000 people in 2023. This contributed to the 1.13m people who visited Diageo’s distillery brand homes across Scotland last year. Clearly a useful method for generating more consumer excitement and intrigue around the brand, it is almost guaranteed we will see Johnnie Walker sitting in the number-one position again next year. Whether that comes with volume growth is yet to be determined.

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