Scotch on the rocks – Jack is number one!

The biggest selling whisky in the UK, it was revealed today, isn’t from Scotland but from Tennessee: Jack Daniel’s has overtaken The Famous Grouse as the nation’s favourite dark spirit.

The Grocer, the weekly trade magazine, has reported that sales of Jack Daniel’s in the UK have soared 9.3% in the past year, pushing it past The Famous Grouse as the nation’s most popular whisk(e)y. Sales of the six leading blended Scotch whiskies have slumped 4.4% in the same period, with sales of The Famous Grouse alone dropping by 14.9%. Jack Daniel’s now is the ninth biggest alcohol brand (overall) in Britain, with The Famous Grouse dropping to 13th.

The shift is attributed to a number of factors: younger UK drinkers preferring American products in general; importers and distributors paying more attention to American whiskies which offer them a higher profit margin, and a general drop in prices to the consumer for American whiskies for several years – Bourbons have never been so popular.

Jack Daniel’s is not a Bourbon, but a Tennessee sipping whiskey (It’s made in roughly the same way as, say, Jim Beam, although with a bit less corn in the mash than the average bourbon, and then is filtered through maplewood charcoal).

Crispin Stephens, the head of commercial planning at Jack Daniel’s owner Bacardi Brown-Forman, said younger drinkers had less of a patriotic attachment to Scotch.

He said: “People don’t want to drink what their fathers drank. There is a broader interest in Americana and this is coming through in casual dining trends.”

Stephens said on and off-trade retailers had been giving more prominence to American whisky because it yields the best return, with a 70cl bottle of Jack Daniel’s costing the same price as a litre of many Scotch competitors.

The switch to more premium products drove the combined value of the top 100 brands up by £149m, according to The Grocer.

Japanese and Irish whiskies are also growing in popularity.

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