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Brands Report 2020: World whisky

13 January, 2020

This catch-all category, taking in global whiskies (outside of American, scotch and Irish) tends to be dominated by Japan.

This year we have five Japanese, four Canadian and a Taiwanese – the whiskies of the likes of India, Australia and Scandinavia have yet to make inroads in the global bar channel.

This category (in its present form) has also only ever produced one winner. Nikka – the stable of which includes eponymous brands, such as Nikka from the Barrel, and sub-brands Yoichi, Miyagikyo and Taketsuru – has once again prevailed. This year we have combined its competitor Suntory’s Yamasaki, Hakushu and Hibiki into one umbrella brand to make a fair comparison. Nikka still won out. In almost half of cases Nikka was the bestselling world whisky in our sample of the world’s best bars and a top-three choice in 80%. Nikka manages to be sold in high volumes while maintaining its cool – it’s the top trending world whisky this year.

Suntory may have lost out to its great rival, but the two together form a duopoly at the top of this list. In more than half of our polled bars you’ll find one of Suntory’s products – it’s the top pour of its category in almost a quarter.

Kavalan is almost a category in itself as the sole representative of Taiwan in this list. Known for its tropical aged profile and sherry-aged styles, it has carved out a niche and garnered a following in the trade. Those that stock the whisky use it regularly, our poll suggests, with about 10% making it their go-to world whisky.

Whistlepig, in fourth, is distilled and part-aged in Canada, before heading south of the border. As a big-ticket whisky, it's few bars' house rye, but it's increasingly on the back bar, appearing in our top 10 for the first time. Lot 40, another rye, joins Canadian Club and Crown Royal in the Canadian Contingent, while Mars, Akashi and Ichiro's all make their debuts, showing the new-found depth of the Japanese category.



The results of this report are the culmination of a questionnaire of 106 bars around the world, each cherry-picked to take part based on their performance in global bar awards. We aim to find out not only which brands sell best but also what’s trending. These two data sets give us an insight into the brands that are doing the most volume and the brands that are hot right now.

To read more on the methodology of the Brands Report click here.

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