Brands Report 2023: American Whiskey

05 January, 2023

There’s a return to the top spot after a three-year hiatus, but the brands remain largely unchanged from last year.

Last year saw the EU and the UK both remove their retaliatory tariffs on American whiskey, meaning that once again the category could be financially competitive in two of the international cocktail industry’s most important markets.

The results on the bestselling list haven’t been as dramatic as you might expect – nine of the 10 brands appeared on the list last year – but every bar that was polled did stock at least two brands from the category.

Maker’s Mark returns to the number one spot for the first time since 2019, beating Bulleit by the narrowest of margins. Both were house pour in 18% of the bars and second choice in around 11%. It was only as a third-choice selection that the Beam Suntory Kentucky straight bourbon edged out Diageo’s number one brand from last year.

Buffalo Trace falls a single position to third, a house pour in 15%. In 2018, the brand’s parent-company, Sazerac, pledged $1.2bn to boost the brand’s production over a 10-year period which, to date, has led to a 50% increase in whiskey production. Time will tell if this growth impacts the brand’s popularity in our polled bars.

Michter’s was recently named the World’s Most Admired American Whiskey by Drinks International and remains a favourite among bartenders, evidenced by its standing as a top-three serve in 30% of bars, despite bottlings demanding the highest price tag on the list.

Given rye whiskey’s specialist use in a number of cocktails, Rittenhouse is the second or third most popular American whiskey in 10% of our polled bars, but most popular in only one.

The Heaven Hill-produced Elijah Craig was noticeable by its absence last year, having missed out on the top 10 by just a few votes. It returns this year to round out the list.

How we did it

The Annual Brands Report results are the culmination of a survey of 100 bars from 33 countries around the world which have been nominated or won international awards. The report offers a picture of the buying habits of the world’s best bars – not only which brands sell best, but also what’s trending to indicate the brands that are hot right now.

To view the page-turner edition of the Brands Report click here.

The Brands Report will be serialised on throughout January.

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