Imported whiskey sees JD way ahead

05 September, 2008

This is arguably the strangest spirits category :

what links smooth,

sippable Jameson and sweet, Coke-mixing Jack Daniel's, apart from the fact that they're not from the UK?

With almost 60% of the category's sales, Jack Daniel's is virtually a category in its own right. Increased spend on cinema and outdoor ads brought another good year for the brand, adding 13.6% to its sales, a trend which could realistically see it outselling Bacardi in the UK off-trade within the next three years.

The days when any mention of JD had to be preceded by the word "cult" are long gone.

Rival US brand Jim Beam also increased its sales, by a healthy 5%, and looks comfortable in third spot, though it needs to be more consistent. Last year, it experienced an 8.6% drop in sales following a 36% increase the year before. It's in

danger of becoming the category's bungee-jump brand.

Jamesons still has the edge in the battle of the Irish brands. Since selling Bushmills to Diageo, Pernod Ricard has invested in a Jameson redesign, which seems to have paid off.

Bushmills has failed to set the category alight, despite significant sums - for Irish whiskey - being ploughed into

the distillery's 400th anniversary celebrations.

Value sales were down a touch.

Jameson also made tidy gains on its 12 Year Old mark, one of a clutch of fringe brands that must have their eye on the fifth position currently held by Jim Beam's fast-falling Black variant.

Imported whiskey

in figures

Value: £124 million

(2007: £114 million)

Change: +9%

Volume: 56,000hl (2007: 52,000hl)

Change: +6%

Source: Nielsen year to Aug 9 2008

Top 10 imported whiskey brands

1 Jack Daniel's +14%

2 Jameson +8%

3 Jim Beam +5%

4 Bushmills -1%

5 Jim Beam Black -17%

6 Penderyn +24%

7 Redwood Canadian -46%

8 Old Samuel Bourbon -

9 Jameson 12 Year Old +15%

10 Canadian Club +27%

The domestic import

One brand

sticks out like a sore thumb in the top 10 imports , and it's possible

many retailers in England and Scotland have never even clocked Penderyn, which occupies

sixth place .

The single malt from Welsh Whisky


strong distribution

in W elsh stores , meaning only a fraction

is exported , even to other countries of the UK - adding to the paradoxical nature of its appearance in a list of imports.

That it does is down to Scotland's monopoly of

"proper" whisky categories. It will be interesting to see where the product of Norfolk's English Whisky Co fits in should it

reach top 10

status .

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