For the first time ever, the whiskey category has the highest number of brands in Impact’s spirits 'Hot Prospect' rankings. Seven whiskey brands earned Hot Prospect honors for 2011, narrowly edging out vodka, which had six.
The winning whiskies are Woodford Reserve Bourbon from Brown-Forman, Pendleton Canadian whisky from Hood River Distillers, Bulleit Bourbon from Diageo North America, Glenmorangie single malt Scotch from Moët Hennessy USA, The Balvenie single malt Scotch from William Grant & Sons USA, Devil’s Cut Bourbon from Beam Inc. and Seagram’s 7 Dark Honey from Diageo North America.
The Hot Prospects designation is for brands that posted at least 15 percent depletions growth in 2011, while also showing consistent growth in 2009 and 2010. Brand volume must be at least 50,000 cases but not more than 200,000 cases. New products can also qualify as Hot Prospects if they pass the 50,000-case mark in their first year.
Also on the list, as a liqueur, is Evan Williams Honey Reserve from Heaven Hill. It is through only the narrowest of technical distinctions that Evan Williams Honey is considered a liqueur while Seagram's 7 Dark Honey is considered whiskey. Both can be found in the American whiskey section of most liquor stores.
That the list includes more bourbons than single malt scotches is notable. That it includes flavored whiskeys at all raises worries about category confusion, but also shows that these products have developed a strong following in a short time. Seagram's 7 Crown, the #1 American Blended Whiskey, has been a moribund brand in a moribund segment, making the rise of Dark Honey a surprise.