Brown-Forman targets booming American whiskey category

Gaëlle Laforest

17 July 2015

Brown-Forman today unveiled its strategy for cashing in on a buoyant American whiskey category in the UK.

Focusing on portfolio curation and bartender education, Brown-Forman believes it could boost an already successful category by an extra £66m a year.

At a briefing earlier today, head of commercial planning and activation for Bacardi Brown-Forman brands Crispin Stephens said that, although the American whiskey category is already worth £540m in the UK and performing well – in the premium arena, for instance, American whiskies are growing at twice the pace of other premium spirits (17% against 8%) – there remain significant growth opportunities.

Armed with research showing that around a fifth of whiskey and gin drinkers say choice is very important to them when choosing an outlet to drink at, Brown-Forman has launched an American whiskey flavour map (pictured below) that arranges spirits according to three flavour profiles – laid back and mellow, full and spicy, and big and bold.

Covering competitor products as well as Brown-Forman brands, Stephens described the move as being 'about how style and flavour can combine to help bars choose their whiskey'. He suggested bars should build their range around best-selling brands first, then trade up while also exploring the diversity of the category.

Brown-Forman will be taking the flavour map around the country, as part of an educational focus aimed at training bartenders to make the most of American whiskey.

In the cocktail arena, the group plans to push drinks aimed at male drinkers in the 18-34 age bracket or recruit craft beer drinkers with ‘hop-tails’.

Casual dining, and especially the growth in Americana and barbecue-style food outlets was seen as another big opportunity for the category.

Bars interested in the American whiskey training program should contact their BBFB representative.

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