The 2016 Spirits Growth Brands Awards: Top-Sellers and Market Trends

Q&A with RumChata

Agave Loco Brands’ RumChata is a Fast Track Brand this year, having grown from 540,000 to 600,000 cases in 2015, a double-digit increase of 11.1%. RumChata has been named a Growth Brand each of the past six years. Founder and master blender Tom Maas spoke about the brand’s success.

BD: What led to the brand’s growth in 2015?

TM: We continued to support the brand with successful YouTube recipe videos. RumChata is the most-viewed liquor brand on YouTube in the U.S. by a wide margin—our content has more than 25 million views. We also partnered with Jack Daniel’s Flavored Whiskies to cross-promote RumChata with Jack Honey (Honey Chata) and Jack Fire (Cinnamon Toast) in national print advertising.


BD: What industry trends are most contributing to the brand’s growth?

TM: Bartenders want new and delicious premium drinks to offer their customers. RumChata’s versatility allows bartenders the opportunity to serve it straight, or as a mixer with hundreds of other premium spirit combinations.


Q&A with Viniq

Viniq, launched by E. & J. Gallo in 2014, is a “shimmering” liqueur that combines vodka, moscato and fruit flavors. The brand is a Rising Star this year after selling 63,000 cases in 2015—a 12.5% increase over its debut year. We recently spoke to the brand’s communications team about Viniq’s success.

BD: What does it mean to you to be named a Growth Brands winner?

Viniq: It’s an honor. Over the past two years, Viniq has elevated delicious cocktails everywhere to taste and look better than ever. We are excited to be the first brand to introduce a shimmery liqueur to the market and are confident in our continued growth potential.

BD: What industry trends are most contributing to the brand’s growth?

Viniq: We saw consumers in 2015 increasingly moving away from traditional drinks, preferring instead to experiment with fruity flavored cocktails. For those consumers looking for sweet and flavorful new insta-worthy products and cocktails, Viniq is perfect for celebrating for friends.

Spirit Hall of Famers

Crown Royal and Ketel One were both inducted into the Growth Brands Hall of Fame in 2015. This year, both Diageo spirits were named Established Growth brands.

Crown Royal crossed the 5-million-case mark in 2015 (to 5.3 million), growing by 17.9%—the most among this year’s Established Growth Brands. Now a 19-time Growth Brands Award winner, Crown Royal launched a number of extensions in recent years, including Crown Royal Maple and Crown Royal Regal Apple. Its Northern Harvest Rye was also recently named World Whisky of the Year by Jim Murray.

“Being recognized as a Growth Brands winner further proves that providing consumers with new, quality whiskies in the portfolio—many of which feature the amazing component whiskies that go into our Deluxe blend—has allowed us to grow as a respected brand for both novice and expert whisky consumers,” says vice president of Crown Royal Yvonne Briese.

She adds that the rise of rye, and the cocktail movement in general, has benefited Crown Royal and driven some of its growth. “Consumers and bartenders are being driven to rye whisky for its spicier tasting profile that serves classic and craft cocktails,” she says. “We’ve been able to provide a rye whisky that’s versatile enough for classic cocktails, but can also be sipped neat or on the rocks.”

Ketel One grew 0.9% in 2015, during a year in which the vodka category overall is struggling to continue its recent growth trajectory. The brand sold 2.18 million cases, earning Ketel One a 16th Growth Brands Award.

“In a year where Ketel One will host a global celebration honoring the Nolet Family Distillery’s 325th anniversary, we could not be more proud of this achievement,” says eleventh-generation distiller Carl Nolet, Jr. “Our new creative campaign in 2015, ‘Our Life’s Work,’ paid homage to the family’s commitment to distilling expertise.”

The brand will concentrate on classic cocktail trends in 2016, with a focus on the Dutch Mule and Martini, in addition to the anniversary celebration in May. “We are seeing consumers’ desire for brands that represent authenticity, heritage and craftsmanship,” Nolet says. “They want to connect with products they are choosing and with the story behind them.”

To capitalize on that trend, Ketel One will continue to convey the brand’s heritage story, as well as its commitment to quality and taste.

Q&A with Patrón

Patrón earned its 14th Growth Brands award this year (for Established Growth) and will likely join the Hall of Fame in 2017. Both the original tequila and its cousin Roca Patrón, a Rising Star for its 11.1% growth in 2015, are leading the superpremium tequila category. We sat down with Greg Cohen, vice president of corporate communications at Patrón Spirits, to learn more about the company’s two fast-growing brands.

BD: What promotions or activations in 2015 led to these brands’ growth?

GC: We had a very busy year, introducing a number of special release tequilas and packaging—including a partnership with Lalique, our first ever 1-liter bottle and the limited edition Patrón Extra Añejo 7 Años. And our focus on innovation wasn’t just limited to products; we also introduced a virtual reality experience leveraging Oculus technology, which took people on an immersive tour of our distillery in Mexico.

BD: Which industry trends are most contributing to the growth at Patrón right now?

GC: Appreciation for high-quality, ultra-premium spirits continues to grow across the globe. People are becoming more aware and educated about sophisticated spirits, and they’re seeking new and unique taste experiences.

It’s an especially exciting time for tequila—no other spirits category has evolved this quickly, changing its image and perception so dramatically. Patrón is widely credited for leading that evolution.

Jeremy Nedelka is editor of Beverage Dynamics Magazine.



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