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Dark Spirits and Liqueurs - UK - September 2019

Covered in this report

Estimated at just under £5.8 billion in 2019, the total dark spirits and liqueur market grew by 11.8% over 2014-19, driven primarily by inflation. Further inflation is expected for 2019-24, with the ageing UK population and alcohol moderation trend hindering volume sales. Value sales of dark spirits and liqueurs are therefore projected to rise by 2.3% to reach £5.9 billion and volume sales to fall by 6% to 142 million litres by 2024.


“Drawing on historical recipes has much to offer for dark spirits. Historical recipes for the drinks themselves chime with a quarter of 45-54s, signalling potential to retain users in the category. Meanwhile historical cocktail recipes using dark spirits would help to generate consumer excitement around the category, especially among under-35s.”

– Alice Baker, Research Analyst

This report examines the following issues:

  • Historical recipes can help to engage both older and younger consumers
  • Need to make dark spirits’ quality credentials more tangible

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Inflation drives category growth over 2014-19
              • Further inflation expected for 2019-24
                • Figure 1: Total value sales of dark spirits and liqueurs, 2014-24
              • Continued decline in whisky brings down overall off-trade sales in 2019
                • On-trade sales performances generally mirror those in off-trade in 2019
                  • Multiple factors drive price rises in 2019
                    • Companies and brands
                      • The Famous Grouse loses out to the decline in blended whisky
                        • Figure 2: Leading brands’ sales in the UK retail whisky market, by value, 2018/19*
                      • Limited-edition and premium launches continue
                        • Brands explore lower- and non-alcoholic spirits variants
                          • Advertising spend rises in 2018
                            • Johnnie Walker and Haig Club are the chief recipients of Diageo’s 2018 adspend
                              • Baileys and Jack Daniel’s come top for quality perceptions
                                • The consumer
                                  • Half of adults drink dark spirits; four in ten drink liqueurs
                                    • Figure 3: Usage of dark spirits, by type, June 2019
                                  • Brand loyalty is strongest when people are buying for themselves
                                    • Figure 4: Dark spirits buying factors by occasion, June 2019
                                  • Liqueurs with dessert-inspired and seasonal flavours spark interest
                                    • Figure 5: Interest in innovation in dark spirits and liqueurs, June 2019
                                  • Premium variants from established brands have the advantage over newcomer brands
                                    • Trial in the on-trade is a major driver of retail purchase
                                      • Figure 6: Behaviours relating to dark spirits and liqueurs, June 2019
                                    • Onus on spirits brands to prove their quality credentials
                                      • What we think
                                      • Issues and Insights

                                        • Historical recipes can help to engage both older and younger consumers
                                          • The facts
                                            • The implications
                                              • Need to make dark spirits’ quality credentials more tangible
                                                • The facts
                                                  • The implications
                                                  • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                    • Inflation drives category growth over 2014-19
                                                      • Further inflation expected for 2019-24
                                                        • Continued decline in whisky brings down overall off-trade sales in 2019
                                                          • On-trade sales performances generally mirror those in off-trade in 2019
                                                            • Multiple factors drive price rises in 2019
                                                            • Market Size and Forecast

                                                              • Inflation drives category growth over 2014-19
                                                                • Figure 7: Total value and volume sales of dark spirits and liqueurs, 2014-24
                                                              • Further inflation expected for 2019-24
                                                                • Discretionary nature puts dark spirits in the danger zone if confidence waivers
                                                                  • Ageing UK population to hinder volume sales growth
                                                                    • Figure 8: Total value sales of dark spirits and liqueurs, 2014-24
                                                                    • Figure 9: Total volume sales of dark spirits and liqueurs, 2014-24
                                                                  • Forecast methodology
                                                                  • Market Segmentation and Channels to Market

                                                                    • On-trade leads on values but not volumes
                                                                      • Inflation rises faster in the on- than off-trade in 2019
                                                                        • Figure 10: Value and volume sales of dark spirits and liqueurs, by channel, 2017-19
                                                                      • Off-trade volume sales fall in 2019
                                                                        • Weakness of blended whisky brings down the overall segment
                                                                          • Hot summer of 2018 boosts liqueurs…
                                                                            • …but they fail to maintain momentum in 2019
                                                                              • Figure 11: Value and volume sales of dark spirits and liqueurs in the off-trade, by segment, 2017-19
                                                                            • On-trade sales performances generally mirror that of off-trade in 2019
                                                                              • Figure 12: Value and volume sales of dark spirits and liqueurs in the on-trade, by segment, 2017-19
                                                                          • Market Drivers

                                                                            • A third of adults have reduced their alcohol intake
                                                                              • Multiple factors affect prices of dark spirits and liqueurs
                                                                                • Pound’s weakness drives inflation in all segments
                                                                                  • EU is the key market for Scotch whisky exports
                                                                                    • Government plans to increase spirits duties
                                                                                      • Weather fluctuations over 2018/19 affect multiple segments
                                                                                        • Consumers’ financial health is crucial for spirits sales
                                                                                          • Ageing UK population to hinder category sales growth
                                                                                          • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                            • The Famous Grouse loses out to the decline in blended whisky
                                                                                              • Limited-edition and premium launches continue
                                                                                                • Brands explore lower- and non-alcoholic spirits variants
                                                                                                  • Advertising spend rises in 2018
                                                                                                    • Johnnie Walker and Haig Club are the chief recipients of Diageo’s 2018 adspend
                                                                                                      • Baileys and Jack Daniel’s come top for quality perceptions
                                                                                                      • Market Share

                                                                                                        • The Famous Grouse loses out to the decline in blended whisky
                                                                                                          • Figure 13: Leading brands’ sales and shares in the UK retail whisky market, by value and volume, 2016/17-2018/19
                                                                                                        • Jack Daniel’s takes sales from Jim Beam as American whisky’s popularity continues
                                                                                                          • Increased advertising boosts Jameson
                                                                                                            • Captain Morgan’s sales plateau as competition heats up in dark/golden/spiced rum
                                                                                                              • The Kraken raises its profile
                                                                                                                • NPD helps own-label to grow
                                                                                                                  • Figure 14: Leading brands’ sales and shares in the UK retail dark/golden/spiced rum market, by value and volume, 2016/17-2018/19
                                                                                                                • Own-label loses sales as brandy/Cognac/Armagnac segment declines
                                                                                                                  • Figure 15: Leading brands’ sales and shares in the UK retail brandy/Cognac/Armagnac market, by value and volume, 2016/17-2018/19
                                                                                                                • Baileys bucks the negative trend in liqueurs
                                                                                                                  • Figure 16: Leading brands’ sales and shares in the UK retail liqueurs market, by value and volume, 2016/17-2018/19
                                                                                                              • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                • Further activity in limited edition spirits
                                                                                                                  • Bushmills Distillery continues the trend in highlighting barrel types
                                                                                                                    • Arran Distillery releases 21 year-old malt
                                                                                                                      • Smaller brands launch dark spirits sourced from closed distilleries
                                                                                                                        • Highland Park unveils the latest in its Viking series
                                                                                                                          • Figure 17: Highland Park unveils the latest in its Viking series, 2019
                                                                                                                        • Premium launches continue
                                                                                                                          • Panamanian rum emphasizes its natural credentials
                                                                                                                            • Figure 18: Panamanian rum brand Grander arrives in the UK
                                                                                                                          • Aldi’s new rum brand heats up the competition within the category
                                                                                                                            • More brands launch entry level products
                                                                                                                              • Aerstone aims to ‘decode’ the whisky category
                                                                                                                                • Lamb’s rum redesigns its packaging to appeal to a younger audience
                                                                                                                                  • Brands explore lower alcohol products…
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 19: Bacardi launches lower-alcohol product, 2019
                                                                                                                                  • …including non-alcoholic spirits alternatives
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 20: Examples of non-alcoholic dark spirits alternatives, 2019
                                                                                                                                  • Brands and retailers innovate with liqueur flavours
                                                                                                                                    • Smaller brands draw inspiration from cakes and desserts
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 21: Examples of liqueurs with cake/dessert-inspired flavours, 2019
                                                                                                                                    • New coffee liqueurs up the competition for Kahlúa
                                                                                                                                      • Kahlúa’s new flavour variant promises a ‘hot chilli bite’
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 22: Examples of coffee liqueur launches, 2019
                                                                                                                                      • Brands continue to explore on-trend flavours
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 23: Example of a liqueur launch with on-trend flavours/ingredients, 2019
                                                                                                                                      • Zymorgium and Aldi tap into the pink gin and unicorn trends
                                                                                                                                        • Crossover brands enter the dark spirits category
                                                                                                                                          • BrewDog links with craft distilleries on whiskies
                                                                                                                                            • Sexy Fish restaurant launches Japanese single malt
                                                                                                                                              • Johnnie Walker launches Game of Thrones-themed whiskies
                                                                                                                                                • …including product designed to be served chilled
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 24: Johnnie Walker launches whisky designed to be served chilled, 2018
                                                                                                                                              • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                                                                                                • Advertising spend rises in 2018
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 25: Total above-the line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on dark spirits^ and liqueurs, by top ten advertisers, 2015-19 (ordered by 2018)
                                                                                                                                                • Johnnie Walker and Haig Club benefit most from Diageo’s 2018 advertising spend
                                                                                                                                                  • Johnnie Walker emphasises care taken in production in new TV advert
                                                                                                                                                    • Haig Club continues to focus on rule-breaking…
                                                                                                                                                      • …but also on responsible drinking
                                                                                                                                                        • Baileys adverts continue to focus on versatility
                                                                                                                                                          • Whisky masterclasses attempt to demystify the category
                                                                                                                                                            • Talisker Tasting Experience harnesses voice technology
                                                                                                                                                              • Bacardi continues its focus on living life to the full
                                                                                                                                                                • Jameson takes the lion’s share of Pernod Ricard’s 2018 advertising
                                                                                                                                                                  • TV advert portrays the product as prompting burglary
                                                                                                                                                                    • Social media adverts aim for lifestyle positioning
                                                                                                                                                                      • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage
                                                                                                                                                                      • Brand Research

                                                                                                                                                                          • Brand map
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 26: Attitudes towards and usage of selected brands, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Key brand metrics
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 27: Key metrics for selected brands, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Brand attitudes: Baileys and Jack Daniel’s are the most widely seen as consistently high quality
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 28: Attitudes, by brand, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Brand personality: Baileys, Jack Daniel’s and Captain Morgan score well on accessibility
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 29: Brand personality – Macro image, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Baileys is the most widely seen as delicious
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 30: Brand personality – Micro image, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • Brand analysis
                                                                                                                                                                            • Baileys is the most widely seen as good value and accessible
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 31: User profile of Baileys, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                            • Jack Daniel’s is seen as fun and (somewhat) cool by under-35s
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 32: User profile of Jack Daniel’s, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                            • The Famous Grouse has a traditional image
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 33: User profile of The Famous Grouse, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                            • Disaronno has something of a sophisticated and stylish image
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 34: User profile of Disaronno, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                            • Captain Morgan scores well on fun and accessibility
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 35: User profile of Captain Morgan, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                            • The Kraken is seen as fun and (somewhat) stylish
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 36: User profile of The Kraken, July 2019
                                                                                                                                                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                                            • Half of adults drink dark spirits, four in ten drink liqueurs
                                                                                                                                                                              • Brand loyalty is strongest when people are buying for themselves
                                                                                                                                                                                • Liqueurs with dessert-inspired and seasonal flavours spark interest
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Premium variants from established brands have the advantage over newcomer brands
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Trial in the on-trade is a major driver of retail purchase
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Onus on spirits brands to prove their quality credentials
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Usage of Dark Spirits and Liqueurs

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Half of adults drink dark spirits
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 37: Usage of dark spirits, by type, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                        • More men than women drink dark spirits
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Single malt whisky is the most widely drunk dark spirit type
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Under-35s are key users of all whisky types
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Four in ten adults drink liqueurs
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 38: Usage of liqueurs and flavoured dark spirits, by type, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Over a quarter of adults drink flavoured dark spirits
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Usage Frequency for Dark Spirits and Liqueurs

                                                                                                                                                                                                • 40% of users drink dark spirits at least weekly
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 39: Usage frequency for dark spirits and liqueurs, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Under-35s are the most frequent dark spirits drinkers
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Men are more frequent drinkers than women
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Dark Spirits Buying Factors by Occasion

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Brand loyalty is strongest when people are buying for themselves
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Six in ten users like to have a selection of dark spirits at home
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 40: Dark spirits buying factors by occasion, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Promotions are a stronger draw when people are buying for themselves
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Introductory offers and flavour/serving innovation can help to tempt price-conscious shoppers
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Age and flavour note references are more important for frequent drinkers
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Reviews/ratings are more of an influence for gifting occasions
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Encourage users to review products and share these with friends and family
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Interest in Innovation in Dark Spirits and Liqueurs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Various opportunities for flavour innovation in liqueurs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Dessert-inspired flavours appeal especially to under-25s…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 41: Interest in innovation in dark spirits and liqueurs, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 42: International examples of liqueurs drawing inspiration from sweet treats, 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • …as do seasonal flavours
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 43: International examples of liqueurs with seasonal flavours, 2018/19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Dark spirits/liqueurs with historical recipes appeal to one in four users
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Lower/non-alcoholic versions of dark spirits appeal to 18% of 18-24s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Behaviours Relating to Dark Spirits and Liqueurs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Premium variants from established brands have the advantage over newcomer brands
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 44: Behaviours relating to dark spirits and liqueurs, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Introductory offers should help premium new entrants to appeal to shoppers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Tasting sessions are a viable means to drive trial
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Target gifting occasions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Historical cocktail recipes made with dark spirits appeal to 68% of users
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Need to build quality associations around mixed serves
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Trial in the on-trade is a major driver of retail purchase
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Perceptions of Dark Spirits

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Onus on spirits brands to prove their quality credentials
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 45: Perceptions of dark spirits, by type, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Promoting a varied range of serves can help to build versatility associations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Dark spirits struggle with flavour perceptions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Forecast methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 46: Forecast of UK sales of dark spirits and liqueurs, by value, best- and worst-case, 2019-24
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 47: Forecast of UK sales of dark spirits and liqueurs, by volume, best- and worst-case, 2019-24
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Market Segmentation and Channels to Market

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 48: Total value and volume sales of whisky, 2014-19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 49: Total value and volume sales of dark/golden/spiced rum, 2014-19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 50: Total value and volume sales of brandy/Cognac/Armagnac, 2014-19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 51: Total value and volume sales of liqueurs, 2014-19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Market Share

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 52: Leading distributors’ sales and shares in the UK retail whisky market, by value and volume, 2016/17-2018/19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 53: Leading distributors’ sales and shares in the UK retail dark/golden/spiced rum market, by value and volume, 2016/17-2018/19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 54: Leading distributors’ sales and shares in the UK retail brandy/Cognac/Armagnac market, by value and volume, 2016/17-2018/19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 55: Leading distributors’ sales and shares in the UK retail liqueurs market, by value and volume, 2016/17-2018/19
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 56: Total above-the line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on dark spirits^ and liqueurs, by top three advertisers, by brand, 2017-19 (ordered by 2018)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Usage of Dark Spirits and Liqueurs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 57: Ways of drinking dark spirits, by type, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 58: Ways of drinking liqueurs and flavoured dark spirits, by type, June 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Behaviours Relating to Dark Spirits and Liqueurs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 59: Non-users’ behaviours relating to dark spirits and liqueurs, June 2019

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dark Spirits and Liqueurs - UK - September 2019

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