World’s Top Five Most Expensive Spirits Brands

Distillers frequently introduce special limited editions of brands or luxury variants of their major brands, such as Johnnie Walker’s Blue Label, although they account for a small proportion of the overall brand’s sales. However, in a global briefing on its new value shares model, Euromonitor International reveals the top five most expensive brands, with all variants included.

The ranking reveals a mix of local and international spirits brands with one common denominator –the brands’ volumes were all focused on Asian markets and, all bar Martell, had volumes of less than a million 9-litre cases.

World’s Top Five Most Expensive Spirits Brands

    Brand (Country of Origin) Price (US$/litre) in 2013
1. Han Jiang (China)380
2. Guojiao 1573 (China)365
3. Royal Salute (International)280
4. Imperial (South Korea)257
5. Martell (International)224

Source: Euromonitor International 

Leading the way are two high-end luxury Chinese baijiu brands – Han Jiang and Guojiao. These two brands greatly benefitted from the culture of gift-giving and corporate entertainment up until 2013. Following the anti-corruption/extravagance campaign by the government and the economic slowdown, brands such as these will have suffered in volume and value terms as producers reduced prices to maintain sales.

In third and fourth place are two Pernod Ricard blended Scotch brands. Royal Salute is a luxury brand with a portfolio consisting of whiskies aged 21 years and above, with China and Taiwan its key markets. Fourth placed Imperial’s volumes are focused more on the high-end but declining hostess bars of South Korea, which focus on premium (12YO) variants.

While it may be of little surprise that a cognac brand is in the top five, some might be surprised that it is Martell. The key factor is Pernod’s overt focus on the Chinese market for the brand, at the expense of previous core markets such as the UK, hence a greater proportion of its volumes came from this market, where it focused on high-end variants rather than other brands. While the Rémy Martin brand in China had a greater focus on higher-end variants and the on-trade than Martell, this was more than countered by having a much greater proportion of volumes focused on lower-priced VS variants in markets such as the US, meaning that it was therefore only the eighth most expensive brand with an average rsp of US$182.

Despite the current economic difficulties facing China and other Asian markets, it is still likely that brands focused on the luxury end of the market in the region will dominate the rankings. Volumes may be smaller and unit prices may be slightly lower but the wealth and aspiration will remain.