Are blends on the mend?

07 September, 2007

While blended whisky is still the best-selling spirit category in the UK off-trade, it has suffered another drop in sales.

The rate of decline has slowed a little, but - by contrast - off-trade vodka sales enjoyed almost double-digit growth, creeping closer and closer to the current king of the spirits aisle.

In the 12 months to Aug 8, there were just £42 million-worth of sales separating the two categories.

There's been no change in the top five brands - or their rankings - since 2006, and three of the five have seen sales dip, perhaps due to a lack of significant above-the-line investment outside the festive period.

The Famous Grouse - which has enjoyed a good year - continued its Six Nations rugby link-up and will sponsor this autumn's Rugby World Cup.

There was Father's Day activity both for Bell's and for William Grant's but - ­compared with vodka - there has been a notable lack of campaigns over the past 12 months.

Thank goodness for Glen Catrine's High Commissioner which, like sister brand Glen's vodka, has enjoyed the best sales growth of the top five brands without any major advertising activity.

Off-trade blended

whisky value

Year to

11/8/07: £737 million

Year to

15/7/06: £751 million

Change from Aug 2006: -1%

Top five blended whisky brands

1 Bell's -1%

2 Famous Grouse +5%

3 Teacher's


4 William Grant's


5 High Commissioner


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Talking terroir

When Bordeaux was in fashion, it seemed almost logical that we should fetishise winemakers. Here were people responsible for brilliant acts of blending, across large estates and multiple grape varieties, including superstars such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot. These days, fashion has moved on and pinot noir is ascendant. As a result, the star of the winemaker has fallen and we find ourselves following a new star in the sky: terroir.

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

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