Brands Report 2023: Scotch Whisky

It’s a familiar tale in this category, but although the names may be familiar, their order has a new spin.

Scotch doesn’t appear too regularly in classic cocktails. Only two of the 50 Bestselling Cocktails, the Sam Ross modern classic Penicillin and the Blood & Sand, calls for it, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have a place in the world’s best bars – 97% carry three or more brands from the category.

Johnnie Walker again rules the roost, making it 13 times out of 14 that the Diageo blended whisky has topped the bestselling table. The world’s bestselling scotch whisky had a bumper year even by its own standards. Sales grew by 34% in 2022 as the brand surpassed 21 million nine-litre cases. It was the bestselling scotch in 19% of our bars and a top-three serve in a third.

The rest of the bestselling table makes for some familiar reading – nine of the 10 brands also appeared last year – but below the number one position, there’s been a shake-up.

The Macallan takes second place, the highest position that the Edrington-owned Speyside brand has held in Brands Report history. While a house pour in 11% of brands, 2% fewer than the third-placed Monkey Shoulder, the single malt has proven to be a popular brand call, a second or third most popular scotch in a quarter of bars.

The peat bombs Ardbeg and Laphroaig, a crucial ingredient in the Penicillin, appear in fourth and fifth place respectively, showing how popular the bold, smoky style is among scotch fans.

Single malts are the current mode in scotch. Rightly or wrongly, they have garnered a reputation as being higher-quality spirits than their blended cousins and now in scotch, it is the master distiller who reigns. This trend is evidenced in our bestselling list, where five of the top seven are single malts. But the approachability and versatility of blended scotches makes them still a go-to house pour for bartenders. The four brands in the bestselling list are a house pour in 40% of our bars against 29% of single malts.

How we did it

The Annual Brands Report results are the culmination of a survey of 100 bars from 33 countries around the world which have been nominated or won international awards. The report offers a picture of the buying habits of the world’s best bars – not only which brands sell best, but also what’s trending to indicate the brands that are hot right now.

To view the page-turner edition of the Brands Report click here.

The Brands Report will be serialised on throughout January.