The only top-7 Scotch brand still in growth recently topped the IWSC blended Scotch category

July 2, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Throughout 2023, the majority of million-case-selling Scotch whisky brands experienced declines in total sales volume, partly as a result of consolidation following the record-breaking 2022 sales. This included eight out of the top 10 whisky brands experiencing volume declines, with double digit decline for Pernod Ricard brands Chivas Regal and Ballantine’s, and Diageo brands J&B and Black & White.

The only two Scotch brands that experienced volume growth in 2023 were William Peel, owned by Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits Group and currently without a direct Australian distribution arm, and William Grant & Sons Grant’s. Whereas the eighth largest Scotch whisky brand only grew by 0.7%, fourth-place Grant’s grew by 3.4%. This significant growth is especially noteworthy considering the overall difficult conditions for Scotch in 2023, and represents a five-year peak in volume of 4.4 million cases for Grant’s.

While the above statistics hone in on global sales data, William Grant & Sons’ ANZ Managing Director Colin Rochester reflected on 2023 in Australia in a similar fashion, describing it as “an exciting and challenging year in many respects but also one that has shown real opportunity for growth within the spirits category. 

“Another highlight was WG&S being recognised as Distiller of the Year for the eighth year in a row at the prestigious International Spirits Challenge 2023,” added Rochester.

Drinks Trade decided to look a little closer at some of the factors that could have contributed to the label’s success. Firstly, William Grant & Sons appointed Søren Hagh, ex-President of Heineken, as the new global CEO on 1 November 2023. According to a William Grant & Sons spokesperson, “there is no doubt that Søren will provide strong leadership for the Company, as he brings a tremendous wealth of relevant experience to the business from his many years working in the drinks sector and with his substantial commercial and marketing experience building global consumer brands in a number of sectors.”

Moving into 2024 and it appears that Grant’s is on track to continue its positive growth trajectory, with its sub-$50 flagship whisky taking home the title of the top scoring blended Scotch whisky at the recent International Wine & Spirits Challenge 2024. The judging panel awarded Triple Wood a score of 98 points, describing it as “a harmonious blend of sweet pear, balanced by a touch of smoke. Layers of mixed nuts add complexity, while a citrus fruitiness enhances the overall experience with a persistent length.”

When talking to Drinks Trade at the end of last year, Colin Rochester said that William Grant & Sons is expecting its whisky portfolio to continue to grow. 

“We are well placed for growth in 2024 with a wealth of opportunity for our whisky brands as new consumers continue to explore the category,” said Rochester.

“With the breadth and depth of the portfolio across multiple categories and consumer occasions, we will remain focused on investing in the growth of our brands as we have since the first production of Glenfiddich in 1887.”

The top performing Scotch brand for 2024 was Diageo’s Johnnie Walker, which remains vastly ahead of its nearest competition after selling 22.1 million cases in 2023. Following this, Ballantine’s sold 8.2 million cases, Chivas Regal sold 4.6 million and Grant’s sold 4.4 million.

The full Top 10 biggest-selling Scotch whiskies in 2023 list is available here.

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