Edrington-Beam Suntory has released their inaugural annual report based on research showing that whisky as a whole will grow by £138 million in value over the next three years to £2.44bn – a 6% growth – and by over 200,000 cases.

Note: The full report is available to download at the end of this blog post. The data has been based on CGA and Nielsen sales figures for 2018, and IWSR growth forecasts for 2019 and 2022.

“Whisky may be one of the oldest spirits categories but it is at
the same time one of the most progressive and innovative.” Mark Riley, Managing Director, Edrington-Beam Suntory UK

Edrington-Beam Suntory UK has identified a series of six drivers of growth within the spirits industry, including of course whisky.

1)Discovery – is a way to continue to bring new drinkers into spirits and presents immense opportunity to drive category growth.

2) Adventure – the opportunity to encourage whisky drinkers to trade up and through the category, as well as to “shake up” existing drinkers’ routines and thereby increase the frequency with which whisky is selected over alternative beverages.

3) Refreshment – Whisky has not always been a consideration for consumers looking for refreshment. However, innovation longer serves and communication that make spirits relevant to refreshment occasions – becoming the “first drink of the night” – will drive further growth.

4) Sharing – The drive amongst consumers to want to feel part of a group and to share a moment through their choice of drinks – creating social
bonds – could give whisky another vital role in consumers’ repertoires.
The development of bottle-to-table serves, and of new cocktail serves that offer opportunities for groups to share, all play to this consumer driver, further offering opportunity to unlock the value in the category.

5) Perfect Experience – The quality of experience of drinking spirits is driven by a greater demand from consumers – those looking for both the “perfect serve” and “perfect bar experience”.

6) Gifting – consumers increasingly view spirits as a great gift for “special
moments” (where there is greatest potential for value to be unlocked).

The UK Whisky Yearbook also provides information on current and future trends affecting the drinks industry in the UK, including key shifts in the whisky category. Chapter One of the report is devoted to ‘The Big Picture’ such as the information extracted below and much more.

Chapter Two of the report is about the On Trade whilst Chapter Three is focused on On trade Outlets based on the CGA segmentation. As Andrew Morrison, Sales Director, Edrington-Beam Suntory UK (pictured below) states “While the on-trade picture is a mixed one, it is nevertheless an exciting time to be in the industry.”

“Our customers tell us that spirits remain a critical area of focus for on-trade outlets – in many it has become a vital part of increasing spend-per-customer at a time when there is a challenge to maximise the value of every visit.” Andrew Morrison

Chapter Four of the report focuses on the Off Trade, where the total value of whisky was flat in 2018 (relative to 2017) at £1.27 billion.

Blended Scotch whisky continues to dominate the Off-Trade in volume terms, accounting for almost seven in every ten bottles sold in the UK, at 54% of the total value of the off-trade. However the report suggest a shift towards more premium choices by consumers, such as Single Malts, with an increase in value.

“To treat whisky as a homogeneous category is to disguise the dramatic shifts we are seeing across the off-trade.” Susanne Wood, Retail Director, Edrington-Beam Suntory UK

Chapter Five covers emerging trends including a renewed appeal to younger and more adventurous drinkers by certain brands.

For reference: the full report can be downloaded by clicking the link below.


“Perhaps the most interesting takeout from this big picture piece is the scale of exploration going on among whisky drinkers. Now more than ever we’re seeing trading-up and branching-out.” Gareth Brown, Marketing Director, Edrington-Beam Suntory UK


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