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Top 10 most powerful whisky brands

In the next instalment of our Power Brands series, we take a look at the world’s most powerful whisky brands of 2014.

The Drinks Business Power Brands Report, compiled by the drinks business together with Intangible Business, sees the world’s most influential wine and spirits brands pitted against each other to determine the world’s most powerful.

The whisky category is undoubtedly a goliath within the drinks industry with many of its brands making it into the top 100 most powerful drinks brands in the world.

Fighting it out in the category’s top 10 are global favourites such as Jameson, Dewars and Jim Beam which have again jostled for position.

Shaking things up is Suntory which entered the charts for the first time this year. The Japanese whisky brand made a comfortable start as the 6th most powerful whisky brand in the world and, perhaps more impressively, the 14th most powerful drinks brand in the world.

To see which wine brands were deemed 2014’s most powerful click here.

Scroll through to see which whisky brands were deemed the most powerful of 2014…


Nearly 200 of the largest brands in the wine and spirits industries were scored by nine panelists to derive a list of the 100 most powerful alcoholic drinks brands. Power is defined by a brand’s ability to generate value for its owner. Value is classified by a series of measures as identified below.

Hard measures

• Share of market: volume-based measure of market share

• Brand growth: projected growth based on five years’ historical data and future trends

• Price positioning: a measure of a brand’s ability to command a premium • Market scope: the number of markets in which the brand has a significant presence

Soft measures

• Brand awareness: a combination of both prompted and spontaneous awareness

• Brand relevancy: capacity to relate to the brand and a propensity to purchase

• Brand heritage: a brand’s longevity and a measure of how it is embedded in local culture

• Brand perception: loyalty and how close a strong brand image is to a desire for ownership

A panel independently ranked each brand out of 10 on the above measures (10 = high, 0 = low). The scores were aggregated and averaged to reach a total score for each brand. A total score was achieved by multiplying a brand’s weighted volume by its brand score (a derivative of the eight measures of brand strength), within a defined range. The weighting is designed to adjust the volumes to a comparable level.

10. Grant’s

Opening this year’s list is Grant’s which slipped one place to 10th with a total score of 10.5%, placing it as the 26th most powerful drinks brand in the world. This year the brand launched a new variation of its blended Scotch, Signature, with the aim of appealing to younger whisky drinkers.

Overall rank: 26

Owner: William Grant & Sons

Origin: Scotland

Total score: 10.5%

Change: -1%

Brand score: 51.3%

Change: -1%

9. Crown Royal

Canadian-born whiskey, Crown Royal, also slipped one place to 9th this year despite achieving a healthy 3% boost to its total score. Ranked as the 17th most powerful drinks brand in the world, the Diageo-owned brand celebrated its 75th anniversary this year with the launch of limited edition blend, Monarch.   

Overall rank: 17

Owner: Diageo

Origin: Canada

Total score: 14.8%

Change: 3%

Brand score: 61.6%

Change: 5%

8. Dewar’s

Closely ahead of Crown Royal is Scottish whisky brand Dewar’s which this year dropped three places to 8th. Owned by Bacardi Martini, the historic brand turned 120 last year, a milestone it marked with the release of its £2,400 Dewar’s Legacy 1893 Scotch decanter.  

Overall rank: 16

Owner: Bacardi Martini

Origin: Scotland

Total score: 15.5%

Change: -3%

Brand score: 56.6%

Change: 0%

7. Jameson

A non-mover in 7th place, Jameson saw a slight increase to its total score this year, despite a 4% slip to its brand score, confirming its status as one of the giants of the whiskey world.

Overall rank: 15

Owner: Pernod Ricard

Origin: Ireland

Total score: 15.7%

Change: 1%

Brand score: 64.6%

Change: -4%

6. Suntory

A newcomer to the Power Brands list, Suntory slips in at number 6 with its range of Japanese whiskies earning it the title of 14th most powerful drinks brand in the world. This year saw the Japanese drinks group successfully completed its US$16bn acquisition of US based drinks group Beam Inc, a deal which is sure to add significant weight to its global brand power moving forward.

Overall rank: 14

Owner: Suntory

Origin: Japan

Total score: 16.9%

Change: New entry

Brand score: 52%

Change: New entry

5. Jim Beam

US based Jim Beam, part of drinks group Beam Inc which is now owned by Suntory, jumps one place to fifth this year enjoying an overall boost to its scores of 2 and 5%. Earlier this month the drinks brand pushed forward with the introduction of its new rye expression onto the UK on-trade in response to growing demand for different styles of American whiskey. 

Overall rank: 11

Owner: Beam Inc

Origin: US

Total score: 19%

Change: 2%

Brand score: 65.9%

Change: 5%

4. Ballantine’s

Standing firm in fourth place, and number 10 in the world, is Scotch whisky brand Ballantines which saw its total score slip by 1% this year. The Pernod Ricard-owned brand shifted more than 6 million cases in 2013 translating into a total growth of 3%, most of which has been achieved through its entry-level ‘Finest’ blend which makes up 89% of its worldwide sales.

Overall rank: 10

Owner: Pernod Ricard

Origin: Scotland

Total score: 21.7%

Change: -1%

Brand score: 62%

Change: 0%

3. Chivas Regal

One of the big three, Chivas Regal maintained its third place position this year, despite its total score dropping by 4%. In May 2012 Chivas Brothers – the whisky and gin arm of Pernod Ricard – announced it would be investing £40 million to increase production and a open brand new bottling plant, however despite this, the brand recorded declining sales of 4.6 million cases which saw the brand’s growth contract by 3%.

Overall rank: 9

Owner: Pernod Ricard

Origin: Scotland

Total score: 27.3%

Change: -4%

Brand score: 62%

Change: -8%

2. Jack Daniel’s

Achieving a 7% increase to its total score and 9% to its brand score – the biggest of all of this year’s top 10 brands – is Jack Daniel’s which takes second place for another year. Of JD Intangible Business joint MD Stuart Whitwell said: “Its strength is unbelievable and now it’s growing in China and the Far East too. Expect that to continue, with growth in price and volumes. One day, it’s going to be a challenger to Bacardi.”

Overall rank: 4

Owner: Brown-Forman

Origin: US

Total score: 42.6%

Change: 7%

Brand score: 78%

Change: 9%

1. Johnnie Walker

A behemoth of the whisky world, Johnnie Walker retains its pole position this year named not only the most powerful whisky brand in the world, but the most powerful drinks brand in the world. With a huge gap between the Diageo-owned brand and its number two, Jack Daniel’s, there looks to be no catching this Scotch whisky colossus. In 2013, JW broke through the 20million case barrier for the first time owing to its huge global spread with not even a clampdown in China interrupting its progress.

Overall rank: 1

Owner: Diageo

Origin: Scotland

Total score: 97%

Change: 6%

Brand score: 85%

Change: 2%

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