Scotch Blends: Look out for the wave

In south east Asia, Johnnie Walker posted 27% net sales growth and gained further share. This was driven by the successful Johnnie Walker Double Black and Johnnie Walker Platinum Label launches, price increases and the halo benefit from the Johnnie Walker Voyager marketing programme. 

In China, Reserve brands grew 59% as super-premium Scotch continued to gain share, driven by Johnnie Walker Blue and the innovations Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve and John Walker & Sons Odyssey.

In India Johnnie Walker Black Label and Red Label depletions grew 41% and 33% respectively, on the back of Formula 1 activations and through the High Ball signature serve programme. In Global Travel Asia, the Johnnie Walker super-premium portfolio increased net sales 41%, supported by the successful launch of the travel retail-exclusive Johnnie Walker Blue and innovations The Casks Edition and Explorer’s Club Collection.

“India is undoubtedly the biggest whisky market in the world and has the heritage of Scotch whisky brands in its DNA, whereas in China we have to build a Scotch whisky culture,” says Morgan. To this end the company has been investing heavily and by the end of last year completed its second Johnnie Walker House in Beijing. 

The first in Shanghai Diageo is considered to have played “a part in shaping the international spirits landscape in China with luxury Scotch”. In terms of luxury this is high-end stuff and all geared for the super, super-rich. The houses are dedicated solely to the enjoyment of luxury whisky and to this end boast some of the finest whiskies available for both sampling and purchase. The proof is in the pudding and sales of super-deluxe Johnnie Walker whisky have increased 64% year on year.  

Clearly the chief protagonists in the Scotch whisky firmament are in good heart, buoyed by the ongoing growth in Scotch whisky’s popularity around the world, which is put down to its general appeal to the younger consumer. There are a few problems on the horizon and there is continued pressure in eurozone countries, notably Spain, Portugal and Greece.  

However, growth in the US, Venezuela and Germany in the first six months ending October 2012 helped offset any declines and the value of Scotch whisky exports remained at £1.8bn. Exports to the US jumped by 13% to £303m, while exports to Venezuela spiralled by 31% to £42m. Interestingly too, exports to India over the same period grew by 38% to £28m – held back by the heavyweight 150% tariff on all important spirits. Imagine the figures if India was on a level playing ground.