DI Annual Bar Report: World Whisky

16 January, 2017

Ireland and Japan are producing the brands to watch in this category. Hamish Smith reports

Jameson might be the juggernaut of this disparate category, but according to our poll it has to share the road with the more diminutive Nikka. By a nose, the Japanese whisky took first place – but it was a close-run thing.

Nikka, particularly with its blended and no-age-statement whiskies, has managed to continue doing business in times of stock shortage. The move to less expensive NAS styles has played into the hands of the bartender, for who taste profile is more important than number.

Not only is Nikka top of the volume chart, it is clearly a brand that customers are still excited about – it tops our trending chart too.

Jameson, meanwhile, is the ambassador for its category and while there may be more flavourful Irish alternatives, such as Redbreast, Jameson has long been considered a staple for mixing. At the forefront of the hipster movement in NYC, this is a brand that can balance volume and value for money, but still cuts the cool.

It’s worth considering that if Suntory’s brands were all under one umbrella, as Nikka’s are, collectively they would top this list. As individual parts, Hibiki (blended) and Yamazaki and Hakushu (which come from separate distilleries) were third, fourth and seventh, which is an impressive tally for Suntory and Japanese whisky broadly.

Bushmills seems to have rebounded following its change of ownership and finishes a lofty fifth, while the Irish Distillers pot still brand Redbreast is just behind in sixth. The following three places are with Tullamore, Teeling and Connemara, so, despite Japanese dominance of the top half of the table, the Irish have the last laugh.

With six of the top 10 best selling world whiskies, Irish is no longer the Jameson category.



The Drinks International Annual Bar Report looks to gauge the buying habits of the best bars in the world by conducting a survey of their owners, head bartenders and bar managers.

The bars that took part – what we refer to as the best bars in the world – are a sample of 108 bars that finished in the top 250 places of the World’s 50 Best Bars survey, now owned by William Reed Business Media. Given the depth and scope of The World’s 50 Best Bars poll (voted for by 476 global bar experts) we feel this is the most credible place to source our sample of bars.

In each instance we asked the bartender to rank their three best selling products in each category, giving us an indication of the brands that are selling best.

As we know, a best selling brand, even in the best bars in the world, earns its place on more than taste, so we also wanted to know the brands that are not necessarily doing huge volumes but have cool-appeal right now. This is where the Trending brands come in. These are the brands customers are increasingly asking for, perhaps because of word of mouth, or even on bartenders’ recommendations.

For more on the methodology see How we did it

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