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The new breed of spirits captivating Aussie consumers

The new breed of spirits captivating Aussie consumers



Japanese whisky, premium tequila and apertifs have been identified at the 2019 Australian Drinks Awards as the key spirits trending with consumers.

The Drinks Association introduced a new brand award at the 2019 Australian Drinks Awards - Gaining in Popularity. It replaces Emerging Brand of the Year and reflects consumers' perceptions of brands they regard as currently trending. 

Based on industry scan data, the top 200 spirit brands were automatically entered in the brand awards, with the winners judged via a Thrive Research survey of 4000 consumers. 

The inaugural Dark trophy has been awarded to Yamazaki, Patrón took out the Light trophy, while Aperol won the Apertif/Liqueur award.

Japanese whisky booms

Before 2008, Japanese whisky was barely known outside of its home country and domestic sales had slumped due to an economic crisis.

But the global highball craze has ignited sales of Japanese whisky among a new and younger generation of drinkers.

A host of Japanese whiskies have arrived on Australian shores recently, with Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky and The Chita among those that have been released this year. 

Beam Suntory is the market leader in Japanese whisky globally, with a 76% share, through its iconic and premium brands including Hibiki, Yamazaki and Hakushu.

Beam Suntory Group Marketing Manager Demetrius Giouzelis noted earlier this year that the company had seen a 64% growth year-on-year in the Japanese whisky category in Australia.

Premium tequila shakes off the spirit's shot reputation

No longer regarded as something to be slammed with salt and lemon, consumers and bartenders are reshaping their perception of Mexico’s signature drink.

According to data from the IWSR, tequila has been the second-fastest growing spirits category in the world over the past three years, rising at a rate of 9% year-on-year, just behind gin at 12%.

While sales were once led by the popular price category, super-premium and luxury-priced brands are the new top performers. 

Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes recently noted: “There’s extraordinary momentum in the high end of tequila. The category is thriving, really vibrant, and is recruiting new consumers across all demographics."

Bacardi purchased Patrón, the world's third biggest selling tequila (according to the Spirits Business Brand Champions 2019 report), in 2018, in a deal that valued the brand company at US$5.1billion. 

"Tequila is one of the fastest-growing and most attractive categories in the spirits industry, with Patrón being the clear market leader in the super-premium segment," Bacardi announced in a statement. "Super-premium brands continue to experience the fastest growth, and the trend is expected to continue."

The rise and rise of Aperol

Australians can't get enough of Aperol, with its sales being a major growth driver for Campari Australia - the company's recent half-year results saw another 26% surge for the apertif.


Launched in 1919 at the Padua International Fair, Aperol was created by the Barbieri brothers, Luigi and Silvio, who coined the name ‘Aperol’, having taken inspiration from the French term for apéritif, ‘Apéro‘.

The global fascination with the Aperol Spritz began a few years ago, with Aperol’s lower ABV tapping into a trend toward lower-alcohol drinks, particularly among younger people.

Aperol's sponsorship of the Australian Open has fuelled the obsession, with Campari Australia and Tennis Australia announcing a partnership in 2017.

The partnership has seen Aperol become the official spirit and official aperitif of the Australian Open, with Campari Australia creating Club Aperol, a venue that sells tens of thousands of Aperol Spritzes every January. 

Thank you to our sponsor

The Gaining in Popularity category was sponsored by BevChain.

"The Thrive consumer survey offers fascinating insights into consumer behaviour, which obviously informs the thinking of our customers and ultimately the kinds of supply chains they need, so for us, getting behind this particular award was a no brainer," explained Josh Morris, BevChain Group Manager – Strategy, Transformation & PMO.

“Great work Yamazaki, Patron and Aperol,” said Josh Morris, BevChain Group Manager – Strategy, Transformation & PMO.

“To win this award is recognition of exceptional performance. Congratulations! It’s no mean feat to get a brand humming so beautifully.

“The more deeply we understand what’s going in our customers’ world, the better placed we are to continue to evolve our solutions to ensure we continue to create exceptional supply-chain value within our customers businesses."

Here are all the spirits winners from the 2019 Australian Drinks Awards:

Fan Favourite

Dark: Jack Daniel's 

Light: Smirnoff 

Apertif/Liqueur: Bailey's 

Gaining Popularity

Dark: Yamazaki

Light: Patron 

Apertif/Liqueur: Aperol 

Most Distinctive

Dark: The Kraken 

Light: Crystal Head 

Apertif/Liqueur: Fireball


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