bulleit brands report

Brands Report 2021: American whiskey

05 January, 2021

Diageo’s Bulleit has come out trumps as the bestselling brand in the American whiskey category for the third time in four years.

In 2013 Maker’s Mark took over from Jack Daniel’s as the bestseller for a couple of years before Woodford Reserve made the leap. Since then Bulleit has been the dominant force and the Kentucky straight bourbon was the number one choice behind a quarter of the bars polled in 2020 and top three in an impressive 36%. Bulleit benefits from having a well-established rye whiskey alongside the Kentucky straight flagship as rye continues to grow in popularity within the bartending world. In fact, Maker’s Mark and Four Roses are the only brands without a rye expression in the bestselling list, while the top trending hierarchy is also 80% brands with either a flagship or portfolio rye.

Below Bulleit the rest of the bestselling order remains largely the same, with one notable absentee. Heavyweight Jim Beam has dropped out of the top 10 having slowly descended in the pecking order over the past three years, with Heaven Hill Distilleries’ Elijah Craig jumping up to eighth. Of course, the huge distribution power of Jim Beam makes it an accessible and recognisable brand, but it appears the world’s best bars are seeking more premium American whiskeys.

Barrel selection programmes remain a big strategy for many American whiskey brands. Maker’s Mark has been inviting accounts from around the world to its Kentucky distillery to create their own unique whiskey through its Private Select programme. The ability to create a customised product for top bars is a great way of building brand loyalty and now all the big players are running similar initiatives. The continued engagement of Michter’s with the industry’s biggest events and best-known bars has kept the brand in the number one spot on the top trending list for 2021, while it gained a spot in the bestselling order with 11% of the bars choosing it as their house pour.



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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