The World of Whiskey — Part 2


The World of Whiskey — Part 2

Thursday, October 17, 2019

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This week, we round out the discussions on whiskey. Given the breadth of the whiskey category, we have segmented it into three areas: American Whiskey, Irish Whiskey, and world whiskies. Based on the Drinks International Report for 2019, there have been major upsets in some segments. All the brands have amazing stories connected with their heritage and great taste profiles. However, as I have always said, the consumer's voice speaks the loudest. Therefore, it remains imperative to constantly communicate with your brand's consumer segments to remain relevant. Let's explore further as we highlight the happenings in the whiskey world!

American Whiskey

One of the major upsets this year is Maker's Mark surpassing Bulleit, owned by Diageo, for the title of American Whiskey Champion. Maker's Mark won by a whisker, with almost similar sales testimonials to Bulleit. The reviews were extremely close, which is unusual given the dominance of Bulleit these past three years. We look forward to seeing the results of 2020 to confirm if this was just a fluke!

Woodford Reserve has kept its place in the top four American Whiskey performers. Included are some of the well-known bourbons: Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey and Jim Beam. Michter's Single Barrel appears to be trending on the international circuit. Another result to look forward to, come 2020!

Irish Whiskey

Ten years ago, if someone mentioned Irish Whiskey as a category in a bar, bartenders would fumble a bit. Today, this category is on fire and is dominated by the green bottle! Jameson Irish Whiskey owned by Pernod Ricard has weathered the rough times and ushered in this new era of prosperity. Jameson Irish Whiskey now has classic bar status within the international bar circuit. Jameson tops both best selling and trending lists and when that happens — balancing volumes with cool appeal — you know a brand is truly dominating. In second place is Diageo's Bushmills, with Redbreast and Teeling completing the top four. The rest of the top 10 are made up of lower-volume brands.

World whiskies

Japanese whiskey is the clear front-runner of this segment, with 90% of the international bar circuit stocking at least one Japanese brand. Japanese whiskey is in extreme shortage, meaning fewer single malts and age statements among its brands. However, bartenders are not deterred and continue to stock what they can source. We are looking forward to seeing if this trend continues for 2020. The top whiskey in this category is Nikka in either of its expressions: Nikka From The Barrel, Coffee Grain or Coffee Malt. The company's sub-branded single malts Yoichi, Miyagikyo (both now discontinued) and Taketsuru all contributed to the Nikka sales. Other brands Hibiki, Yamasaki, and Hakushu are more internationally developed brands with Hibiki being a top performer on the international bar circuit. If any brand can fill the void of the Japanese whiskey shortage it's Taiwan's Kavalan, loved by bartenders for its tropical flavours. Canadian whiskies like Crown Royal and Seagram's VO remain best-sellers. And making inroads is Australia's Starward from the New World Whisky Distillery.

To my spirits connoisseurs, as you can see, the world of whiskey is not sleeping; innovation continues to rise and brands continue to fight for dominance; however, consumers rule!

Cheers to an amazing week ahead!

Readers' Feedback:

Imagine if we embraced life's moments big and small, without reservation. Together, we might fill the world with contagious joy. Please share with meyour wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.

Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President – Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

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