The Grapevine

Banner Year for Bourbon, Not for Other Spirits and Non-Premium Wines

February 23rd, 2015

2014 was a great year to be sellling bourbon, though other spirits and lower priced wines did not fare nearly as well. [level-members]

According to Shanken News Daily, the biggest names in spirits, including Barcardi, Johnny Walker, Absolut, and Captain Morgan all saw a fall in sales over the course of 2014. Only Jack Daniel’s improved on 2013, and that was a relatively modest 1.7% gain.

The news was far better for bourbon bottlers. Jim Beam and Evan Williams both grew substantially (7% and 15.3%, respectively), and Jack Daniel’s new Tennessee Honey gained more than 33%.

The biggest gain of the larger brands belongs to Fireball, which is now knocking on the door to Top 10 status after back-to-back years of astounding growth. (1.6 million case increases both times.)

As we’ve discussed before, entry-level wines are having a tough go of things as they fight off challenges from spirits (new and old, particularly brown goods) and craft beer for the attention of consumers just taking the step up from post-collegiate well drinks. (At the same time, many producers are seeing solid growth in the $10 to $20 price range.