Brands Report: World Whisky

With Irish Whiskey stripped out, other countries get a chance to shine. Hamish Smith does the maths

It's all change at the top of the World Whisky league but, it must be said, out of our own doing. Irish whiskey now has its own table, so its brands are absent from this list. It’s not like we’re left with a stagnant category though – whiskies are popping up all over Australasia and Europe, adding to the more established world whisky territories of Japan, Canada, Taiwan and India.

So Nikka, which is both brand and umbrella title for a number of sub-brands, tops the pops. Led by entry-level Nikka from the Barrel, more than 40% of polled bars made Nikka their best-selling world whisky and a massive 71% said it was among their top three best-selling world whiskies. Nikka’s grip on the bartending fraternity shows no sign of weakening, with a third of those polled claiming it to be the on-trend brand in their bars.

The apparent shortage of aged Japanese whiskies doesn’t appear to have held the category back, perhaps with bartenders forgiving youthfulness because of the category’s new-found consumer cache. Either way, six of the 10 whiskies in our World Whisky list are Japanese.

The blended Hibiki leads the way for Beam-Suntory with more than two-thirds of bars attesting to its saleability, while stablemate Yamazaki was found on the back bar in a half of bars polled. Though interestingly Yamazaki was more likely to be a house pour than Hibiki, which is more likely to be deployed in cocktails. Hakushu, Suntory’s other malt, headed a group of three with similar ranking points, not least its eponymous blend, Suntory. Are you counting? That’s four Japanese whiskies from Beam-Suntory in the table.

The single malt Amrut is the first Indian whisky to appear in the World Whisky league, while we also see two Australian brands – Starward from Melbourne and Sullivan’s from Tasmania – debut. Chichibu, having appeared in the Trending list last year, also makes its bow in the big league of Best Selling.



The results of this report are the culmination of a questionnaire of 106 bars around the world, each cherry-picked to take part based on their performance in global bar awards. We aim to find out not only which brands sell best but also what’s trending. These two data sets give us an insight into the brands that are doing the most volume and the brands that are hot right now.

To read more on the methodology of the Brands Report click here.