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Dark Side Feels The Force

Whisky is leading growth in the dark spirits sector, despite a surge in brandy sales prompted by a reduction in overall prices

DARK SPIRITS are enjoying solid growth, mainly driven by the continued strong performance of whisky. Overall, however, this growth is being driven by existing buyers rather than new ones converting to the dark stuff. In fact, the total number of dark spirits buyers has increased only marginally in the past year, although the volume purchased by dark spirits buyers has increased significantly. Within the dark spirits category, whisky and brandy have been the engines of growth. Whisky has, in fact, picked up new buyers, where dark rum and brandy have lost buyers. Brandy, however, has seen a huge increase in volume purchased, which is partly due to a reduction in the overall price. Dark rum has lost value over the past year, partly through lost buyers but mainly through significantly reduced purchasing. It is notable, however, that dark rum has a considerably younger demographic profile than other dark spirits – and younger consumers are more likely to alter their drinking repertoire. Whiskies dominate the leading brands, within a top 10 that is fairly steady year to year. Bell’s and Famous Grouse vie for top place, while Jack Daniel’s, Courvoisier Cognac and Three Barrels Brandy are the leading non- Scotch whisky brands. Meanwhile, among the retailers, Tesco, Morrisons Group and the Co-op overtrade in dark spirits. In Tesco, this is strongly led by the brandy category, in which the store accounts for a third of all multiples and co-op sales.

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