Whether you’re a bourbon, rye or scotch fan, they all fall under the same ‘whiskey’ umbrella, an umbrella that seems to be getting bigger every year. A spirit that has been a steady, firm favourite for centuries, over the last few decades whiskey’s popularity has been on an upward trajectory. We take a closer look at why people are loving their liquid gold and suss out the top sellers of 2021
Why this spirit is whisk(y)ing people off their feet
Tariffs in the US coupled with COVID made 2020 a tough year for many whiskey brands, however, most emerged from it without significant losses, and into a brighter 2021. While the aftermath of the pandemic negatively affected a plethora of things, it did drive an interesting shift in consumer habits.
For those lucky enough to have continued working from home during the lockdown, they’ll have benefitted from having more disposable income and a ‘treat yourself’ attitude to boot. Avid whiskey drinkers were experimenting with new releases, and whiskey novices were putting their cocktail skills to the test. With consumers getting more knowledgeable and mastering an Old Fashioned in their kitchen, it’s no surprise that when pubs reopened this category continued to get attention.
Premium and profitable are going hand in hand
Not only did consumers escape from lockdown and head to their nearest premium cocktail bar (another category that soared post lockdown), but they went knowing what they wanted in their glass. Over the last few years, the most versatile spirit has to be tequila, which is now being used for far more than your average margarita (and hello agave shortages, story for another day!). While this tequila craze is hard to keep up with over the last five years, whiskey is hot on its heels (or should we say ‘wheels’). Because customers are getting a taste for the finer things in life, they’re exploring more and ‘trading up’, which is causing a shift in the market value of this spirit.
So, what are people sipping?
People are now ordering more of a diverse range of whiskies, and expensive Japanese whiskies and premium scotch are fast becoming go-to gift items. This gifting aspect is also tied to size and packaging too, In 2021 the US noted that 750ml bottles have gained market share, while 1 litre and 1.75-litre bottles have decreased. All of this consumer activity is contributing to a shift in Whiskey’s presence in the market. But what brands are people drinking? Let’s take a look at some of the top sellers from 2021.
Jameson Irish Whiskey
Even if you’ve never touched a drop of alcohol, you’ll know the brand ‘Jameson’. It’s a whiskey company that is adored the world over. While the inhabitants of its birthplace are known to knock back their fair share of drops, it’s not just the Irish that sips this tipple. 2021 saw Jameson cement its position as one of the ‘Top 5 best-selling International whisk(e)y brands in the world’. In the sales period of 2020/2021, the brand sold a whopping 8.6 million cases, a growth of over 1.1 million when compared to the previous period.
2021 also saw the rise of ‘ready to drink’ (RTDs), a trend that Jack Daniels benefitted from, with the brand selling over 12 million 9 litre cases. Sales of their premium bourbon also saw significant lifts, in particular Woodford Reserve and Old Forester, both of which maintained strong, growth in the double digits.
As the company is privately owned, they don’t have to disclose the details of its sales, however, Beam CEO Albert Baladi revealed that worldwide sales of the bourbon rose 11% in 2021. The company have been steadfast in their sales strategies, releasing 12-year-old and 15-year-old varieties to meet that ‘premium’ demand. With people now willing to pay more for their pour, companies like Jim Beam can increase prices to offset inflation, and continue on an upward growth trajectory.
Johnnie Walker owners, Diageo, said they were well-equipped to overcome whatever 2020 threw at them, and after a tough 12 months, they were ready and waiting for the boom and demand for ‘all things premium’.Johnnie Walker’s scotch was up 15% in 2021, with the brand’s deluxe varieties contributing to nearly half of Diageo’s net sales growth for that year alone.
Ready to get your whiskey and bourbon fix? Explore the huge range at your go-to liquor wholesalers by visiting paramountliquor.com.au