“WHISKEY” the anglicized Gaelic word means “the water of life”. It is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage, which was believed to be distilled for the first time in the 13th century in Italy. Italians distilled it from wine. Since then whiskey is being produced by several countries and by various brands in the whole world. Whiskey is actually a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. These grains may include barley, corn (maize), rye and wheat. Before bottling the liquor into beautiful glass bottles the most important step of the manufacturing of whiskey is observed- It is aged in wooden casks, generally made of charred oak wood.
Though sale of whiskey largely depends upon the demand which in turn depends on the taste of the people makes it a difficult task but still this task is being performed continuously by various agencies such Beverage Testing Institute, New York International Spirits competition, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Proof66 and the list goes on. They rate the liquor keeping in mind its appearance, smell, taste on palate and aftertaste that is, taste that our follows after swallowing it.
Presently, there are many liquor manufacturing companies in the world. It would be quiet interesting to rate these brands according to the sales. Here is a small effort to perform this task. Here goes the list.
10. Black Nikka
The list starts with a Japanese whiskey brand, headquartered in Tokyo, it registered encouraging sales growth of 13% in the year 2012. Black Nikka is a 37% alcoholic whiskey, presently owned by Asahi Breweries. Its founder Masataka Taketsuru went to Scotland in 1918, at the University of Glasgow to learn the process of distilling Scotch whiskey. In 2008, Yoichi (distillery of Nikka Whisky Distilling co.ltd.) was voted best single malt at the World Whiskies Awards. The Yoichi Distillery firm still uses coal fire to heat the pot stills, practice that has been almost entirely abandoned in modern whiskey production. In 2009, Nikka decided to rename Black Nikka brand to “BLACK”.
9. Black Velvet
Another whiskey brand with the name black hitting the list is “Black Velvet”. It is a Canadian whiskey brand owned by Constellation brands. It is one of the largest beer, wine and spirit companies. It is touching 2.1 million sales figure since past three years. Its original name was “Black Label” as per its strong taste but, in the late 1940’s, the master distiller Jack Napier changed its name to “Black Velvet” because he thought that it had a velvety taste and smoothness. The company has always employed famous stars such as Christie Brinkley, Kelly Emberg, Larry Hagman for its advertisement. The current Black velvet Lady is Tami Donaldson.
8. Crown Royal
Here comes Canada’s top selling whiskey. It is a Canadian blended whiskey owned by Diageo introduced by Samuel Bronfman in the year 1939, in the honour of George’s IV’s visit to Canada. Its sale increased from 5m in 2011 to 5.2m in 2012 with a growth of 4% in 2012. Crown Royal advertises in various motor sports events and cars. Crown Royal introduces its variants regularly at intervals. A distinctive feature of the brand is that it packs the glass bottles in a especially gold embroidered bag. Its latest variant Crown Royal XO was introduced in January 2014. It is a blend of 50 whiskies, packaged in a bag with grey and gold embroidered accents.
George Ballantine and Son Ltd. in dumbarton, Scotland takes away the credit of producing the range of blended scotch whiskies under the brand name of Ballantine’s. It is the world’s second highest selling Scotch whisky. The brand has won many awards for its products. It is one of the first Scotch whiskies to grab the market in the United Kingdom introduced in 1965. In 2006, Sandy Hyslop was appointed as Ballantine’s Master Blender. He is appointed as the 5th Master Blender in Ballantine’s 180 year history. Its variants are named with expressions stating the characteristics and age,, like- 12 year old: blended-“fresh, soft and nutty”, 40 year old: blended-“incredible depth, complex and extremely fruity”.
6. Jim Beam
Jim Beam is an American brand, which manufactures Bourbon made from a grain mix where the predominant grain used is corn. The brand sales increased from 5.9m in 2011 to 6.3m in 2013, registering a 7% growth in 2012. It is the first brand to market flavoured infusions such as honey-flavoured Jim Beam Honey. In the U.S., sales volume for bourbon and Tennessee whiskeys has grown 26% over the past decade, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, and industry group. Demand is so large that the company decided to reduce the alcohol content in its product. After company’s acquirement by the Suntory of Japan it is renamed as Jim Suntory.
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Suntory Holdings Ltd. of Japan is the one the oldest brewing and distilling group established in 1899. It makes both best-selling and award winning Japanese whiskey. Suntory is headquartered in Dojimahama2. Company keeps on merging and acquiring with other companies to expand its business. In 2009, Orangina, the orange soft drink and Frucor energy drinks. In 2013 the company deputed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and raised approximately $4 billion. In 2014, Suntory announced an agreement to buy the largest U.S. bourbon producer, Beam Inc. This deal would make Suntory the third largest spirit maker in the world.
4. Canadian Club
Canadian Club is a brand of whiskey, popularly known as C.C. from Canada. It was created by Gooderham and Worts based in Toronto. The brand is now produced by Beam Suntory. In the 1960’s during the “Mad Men” era Canadian Club sold approximately 4 million cases in the U.S. alone. The brand now ships about 2.5 million cases annually in North America. The brand has introduced new label and bottle to reflect the Mad Men era.
3. Jameson Irish
Jameson Irish is a blended whiskey produced by Irish Distillers. The company was established in 1780. In 2013 the brand sales topped by selling 4m cases (48 million bottles). Jameson is the best selling Irish whiskey in the world. It has been selling internationally since 19th century. In 2008, The Local, an Irish pub in Minneapolis, sold 671 cases of Jameson whiskey, thus capturing the place of largest server of Jameson’s in the world and it maintained the title for four consecutive years. A brand on which you can any time bet on. The Rarest Reserve variant of Jameson’s is rated as one of the top 20 whiskies in the world by Proof66.
2. Johnnie Walker
Johnnie Walker, characterized by a striding man logo is a brand owned by Diageo. It annually sells 130 million bottles of its blended scotch whiskey. It is the most widely distributed brand of blended scotch whiskey, almost available in all the countries of the world. The brand sells its variants under the name of Red Label, Platinum Label, Red & Cola and so on. Its variant “Honour” is one of the rarest and most expensive blends of Johnnie Walker blended scotch whiskey. The brand has won several awards at Spirits Ratings competition.
Here comes the king of all the whiskies in the world- “Jack Daniels”. It is a largest selling brand of American whiskey in the world. It is a brand of Tennessee whiskey. It is produced by Jack Daniel distillery, in Lynchberg, Tennessee, owned by the Brown Forman Corporation in 1956. The brand achieved 100,000 case growths in 2012. The brand’s variant “Black Label” sold its 11 million cases in the company’s fiscal year ended on 30 April, 2013. The company regularly sponsors various race events. It sponsors Zac Brown Bands Tour. The brand is planning to introduce its new variant under the name of “Sinatra’s 100th birthday”, launching in 2015.