Each second, 44 bottles of Scotch whisky are shipped from Scotland to around 180 markets across the world, according to the Scotch Whisky Association.

That equates to 1.3 billion bottles each year, which, when laid end to end, would almost reach the moon. In short, that illustrates a huge global demand for Scotch whisky. Australia is of course no exception – Scotch is well known as a glowing category that continues to perform well in the off-premise market.

Scotch whisky was the focus for a recent event held by Brown-Forman at Frank Mac’s in Sydney, which allowed guests to explore some of the whiskies from its premium portfolio that includes Benriach, Glendronach and Glenglassaugh. The event started with a video welcome by Master Blender, Dr Rachel Barrie, who introduced the brands and their locations in Scotland.

“I very fondly like to think of the distilleries as going from the Ben to the Glen to the sea. Where we are in the northeast of Scotland, we have three distilleries that are only individually 20 to 30 miles apart, but the diversity just in that landscape is incredible,” Dr Barrie said.

Like many styles of drinks in the global liquor industry, each Scotch whisky is influenced by its environment. Just within the Scotch whisky offering in the Australian market, there is an incredible amount of diversity, helping grow the appeal of the spirit locally.

But for Stewart Buchanan, Global Brand Ambassador for Brown-Forman’s Scotch brands, there is even further growth to come.

“Everybody has expected a flattening or lull, but I think we’re riding a wave that we’ve never seen before in the industry and I personally don’t see it stopping,” Buchanan said.

“At a global scale, we’ve not scratched the surface for a lot of whisky consumers across the world.”

Australia in comparison to the global market

As identified in the November issue of National Liquor News, Scotch whisky is a category of continued growth in Australia, as consumers persistently seek it out in the off-premise. Oliver Maruda, CEO of The Whisky List, noted that it “continues to be the most sought-after type amongst whisk(e)y drinks in Australia.”

Andy Milne, Portfolio Manager at SouthTrade International, illustrated this growth in the numbers and said: “Scotch continues to grow steadily across Australia, growing four per cent MAT and five per cent on the QTR (Aus Projected Retail, 9LE FBS Volume IRI Data to 17/07/22). Bourbon is declining slightly MAT at negative one per cent, driven primarily by the mainstream and value sector, showing that people are seeking premium quality spirits.”

There are a number of things driving this growth locally, from trends like premiumisation, to brand innovations that keep consumers engaged, and events and activity that encourages new consumers to enter the category (all of which you can read about in detail in the wider Scotch feature of National Liquor News). And all of these elements may also be at play on the world scale, but Australia still remains a unique market.

Buchanan, being a Global Brand Ambassador, has a first-hand overview of the different markets for Scotch whisky around the world.

“I’ve been going to Australia for maybe about 10 years, and in that 10 years I’ve seen one of the most dramatic growths globally in the thirst, the passion and the knowledge,” Buchanan said.

“It’s good seeing whisky sales grow, but what I see in Australia is the knowledge behind the consumer, and the passion they have, is really outstanding. I’ve also generally seen a younger [adult] consumer and a very even spread of demographic with guys and girls both enjoying whisky.”

While Buchanan can’t be sure what exactly has caused this dramatic change in consumer knowledge in Australia, he predicts the rise of awareness around locally made spirits has helped. When there is more of an understanding about different kinds of spirits and how they can be consumed, shoppers can feel more adventurous to buy different kinds of whisky on the shelf.

“The new consumer or the younger adult consumer in Australia doesn’t come with baggage. That’s what I tell people sometimes – ‘don’t come with this baggage of thinking there is only five single malts in Scotland.’ In some markets, they think that’s true, but there are actually over 165 single malts in Scotland,” Buchanan said.

“[Without this baggage], I think Australian consumers are far more adventurous, and are a discoverer on the shelf. That’s what I enjoy – that openness to take on anything outside of your comfort zone, rather than sticking in a pigeonhole.

“That discoverer is also less brand focused and are looking to try a cross section of Scotch and find their own little hidden gems… that’s a difference for the Australian market – some other bigger markets are generally brand focused and will not break their brand loyalty.”

Australia does also fit into a global movement that Buchanan has seen in the past few years during the COVID-19 pandemic – where consumers have used new ways of connecting with brands to feel less intimidated about entering the world of Scotch.

“Throughout lockdown periods, we’ve gained more followers than ever in single malts, perhaps due to online activations people came to naturally over the last two years. Maybe people who were intimidated to go to live tastings in person felt more comfortable to approach a single malt tasting from their homes,” Buchanan said.

“I think that’s been a great win for single malts, to remove that fear factor and intimidation, because that can be quite scary… people can now be more relaxed and able to enjoy single malts in their own time, however they like.”

A testament to that movement has been the recent successes of Benriach, after relaunching in 2020. Echoing Dr Barrie’s notes about diversity, Buchanan said that like all of the Brown-Forman Scotch brands, Benriach has a breadth of flavour, smoke and age, which is important for its success.

“We’ve got to look after the consumers that are coming in, that are going to be the consumers for the next 20 years. We’re catering for everybody, so we can’t scare off that young consumer who could be that future consumer too,” Buchanan said.

Read more about the Scotch whisky category in Australia in the November issue of National Liquor News.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *