• Johnnie Walker positioned as world’s top spirit
  • 109 spirits brands qualify for the performance brands list
  • Scotch whicky boasts 33 brands on the list

Diageo and Pernod Ricard have dominated an inaugural list of the world's top performing spirits brands.

The list, released late last week, is drawn from a report published by The IWSR and just-drinks, entitled The World's Top Performing Spirits Brands. It incorporates The IWSR's ranking based on volume, retail value and five-year growth, with a just-drinks reader survey of industry opinion on what were the best-performing brands of 2010.

In the list, Diageo's Johnnie Walker has been confirmed as the top performing global brand in the spirits sector, with Brown-Forman's Jack Daniel's the only brand in the top eight not to be owned by either Diageo or French rival Pernod Ricard.

Diageo had the largest number of brands in the list with 20, followed by Pernod Ricard at 17, Beam Inc at 10 and Bacardi at 7. A total of 17 different companies had a single brand each on the list.

In the overall ranking from the report by The IWSR, Jack Daniel's came in fourth with a total score of 310 out of a possible 327. Moreover, in the brand 'stand out' rating element of the survey, where readers were asked to rate the brands on a score of 1 to 5, it came second behind overall leader Johnnie Walker. Jack Daniel's had an average rating of 4.10, while Diageo's flagship Scotch whisky brand scored 4.19. Jack Daniel's was also the only other brand to have a score above 4.

In second place was Diageo's Smirnoff vodka. Pernod's highest-rating brand was Absolut, which placed third. However, just-drinks' reader survey gave Absolut the highest rating with regard to innovation, with an average score of 3.73, versus 3.35 for Johnnie Walker and 3.30 for Smirnoff.

While Absolut's average revenue per-case fell marginally in 2010, from US$251.58 to $249.42, Absolut's global retail sales rose by 5.4% to $2.7bn. Sales outside the US grew by 15%, while US sales increased by 2% to 4.6m cases. The brand's total sales increased by 5.4% to 11m cases.

Meanwhile, Johnnie Walker was not only the leading brand in the IWSR rankings, but was also identified as the brand with the most growth potential in the just-drinks reader survey.

When readers were asked to rate how much potential each of the brands had to gain further market share or penetration over the next 12 months, Diageo's flagship Scotch whisky brand scored 3.71, followed by Absolut with 3.51, Jack Daniel's with 3.49 and Captain Morgan with 3.37. Johnnie Walker outscored both of the other Scotch brands in the IWSR top ten by some measure: Pernod's Chivas Regal and Ballantine's had ratings of 3.21 and 2.68, respectively. Smirnoff only rated fourth in the survey on growth potential.

Johnnie Walker's volumes grew by 8.5% in 2010 to reach 15.5m nine-litre cases, excluding RTD volumes and sales in sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific Islands. The brand sells more than 1m cases in three markets, the US, Brazil and Thailand, and more than 500,000 cases in Mexico, Australia and Greece. While Greece could fall below the 500,000-case mark this year, China is set to become the next 500,000-case market, The IWSR forecasts.

The top ten brands were:

  1. Johnnie Walker
  2. Smirnoff
  3. Absolut
  4. Jack Daniel's
  5. Captain Morgan
  6. Chivas Regal
  7. Ballantine's
  8. Baileys
  9. Hennessy
  10. Jägermeister

For full details of the report, click here