Brands Report 2021: World whiskies

The world whiskies category is a mixed bag from all corners of the Earth, excluding the historical categories of scotch, American and Irish whiskey.

However, with four brands in the list you could argue it’s bordering on becoming a Japanese list. Asahi’s Nikka retains pole position for the sixth year on the bounce. With 45% of our bars polled declaring it their number one pour and 74% naming it in their top three whiskies on the back bar it’s by far the winner in 2021. Its popularity stems from its contemporary look, competitive price (for entry-level whiskies) and respected quality within the trade, combined with an increasing interest in Japanese whiskies among consumers.

Looking at the top-trending list, Nikka seems set to continue its dominance of the world whiskies section into next year, having received three times the number of votes of Suntory in second. Also a Japanese brand, Suntory sits behind Nikka in the bestselling list too, and has done for two years now. But with half the first-choice votes of Nikka, the brand family which includes Toki, Chita, Hibiki, Hakushu and Yamazaki is still a distance off challenging for gold.

Ichiro’s, which is the product of Japanese whisky ‘rockstar’ Ichiro Akuto, has earned its debut in the Brands Report bestselling list due to the continued rise of its Malt & Grain blend among the global bar elite. Elsewhere in the world, Taiwanese distiller Kavalan has taken third place in the bestselling list. Best known for its sherry cask finishes, the brand was the most popular third-choice whisky among the bars polled, which elevated it safely on to the podium. 

Canadian representatives Canadian Club and Crown Royal both climbed the ladder in the 2021 list to fourth and sixth respectively, while the rise of Australian single malts within the bartender community sees Melbourne brand Starward regain its spot a er dropping from the list in 2020. On the Indian front just Amrut features in the bestselling list, likely due to the brand’s popular single malt programme, which is proving a hit with the world’s best bars.



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.