brands report 2020 bulleit

Brands Report 2020: American whiskey

09 January, 2020

With the proliferation of distilleries continent-wide, North American whiskey is no longer the sole domain of its heartlands Kentucky and Tennessee.

Yet when it comes to high-end bars, these are the states that dominate, Kentucky in particular. The Bluegrass state’s famous old brands carry trust in international circles and are mostly part of a big-group portfolio offering. Bulleit, having slipped to second last year, makes it four wins in five years, underlining its consistency. With a high rye content in its bourbon – something of a boon to bartenders – this is the house pour in a fifth of bars we polled and on the top-three roster in close to half.

It’s a little drop down to the rest of the field, where Buffalo Trace leads a group that includes Maker’s Mark and Woodford Reserve. The Sazerac brand was the house call in just under 15% of cases, but a top-three seller in a third of those polled.

Beam Suntory’s Maker’s Mark, after unexpectedly topping our poll last year, takes a solid third, and while it wasn’t as consistently chosen as the top pour, it was in the supporting cast in a third of cases.

Brown-Forman’s Woodford Reserve performed similarly. Perhaps with a marginally inferior distribution, Campari Group's Wild Turkey was found to be a top-three bourbon in a quarter of our sample of the world's best bars.

If the top five are all household names, Michter's is the small-batch American brand on the rise. It was the first big-ticket whiskey to make an impact overseas and through ambitious and effective marketing to bartenders it has steadily climbed the Brands Report rankingsin line with its burgeoning appeal. We shouldn't be surprised - Michter's was the Top Trending brand last year, something it's repeated in 2020. If its perception is both of quality and cool, don't be surprised to see it make the top half of the Bestselling list next year.                                                                                                 



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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