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The world’s top spirits brands revealed

The 2017 edition of the International Wine and Spirits Research’s (IWSR) annual Top 100 rankings has been published, which lists the world’s 100 largest spirit brands by volume.

The top 10 on the list is dominated by brands that would be largely unfamiliar to the average western drinker; selling well over 65 million nine-litre cases in 2016 was South Korean soju brand Jinro, maintaining its number one position as the world’s most popular alcoholic drink.

It sold more than double of the brands in second and third place – ABD’s Officer’s Choice whisky (32.3m cases) and Thai Beverages’ Ruang Kao (31.2m cases) – combined.

In fact, the Jinro brand makes up two percent of the global spirits market on its own, and its sales of 65.9m cases is considerably more than the total of the spirits markets of the UK, Germany or France.

While the top 10 is dominated by giant domestic Asian brands, the international bestsellers are not far behind: Johnnie Walker Scotch comes in at 11th, Bacardi Rum at 13th and Jack Daniel’s Whiskey at 16th.

Unlike the domestic Asian brands, these iconic drinks do not completely rule their home markets, facing more competition from other international spirits brands – instead, their success is owed to a global reach.

18 of the brands in the Top 100 belong to Diageo, making the British company the most-represented owner among brands selling over three million cases; Pernod Ricard has eight brands on the list and Campari has four (although none rank higher than 77th place-getter Skyy vodka).

Reflecting its status as a highly aspirational drink in the developing world, whisky is the most represented category – featuring 28 brands – second to vodka with 19 and rum with six.

One category that is conspicuous in its near absence is tequila, with only Jose Cuervo in 47th position making it into the Top 100.

This year’s Top 100 list brings into focus the defining role that emerging markets play in shaping the global spirits industry; the drinking population in India, Brazil and South East Asia, in particular, is growing each year, keeping Indian whiskies, cachaça and soju brands in high positions.

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