Product innovations in Q4 are traditionally dominated by wintry seasonal fare and gift items. However, rather than seeing a preponderance of gift sets, red wines, and seasonal beers, whiskey dominated the popular new products list, snapping up 14 of the top 20 spots. 

“The top trend that emerged was the data that whiskey was the clear winner of new releases this quarter, making up many of the best-selling new products,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. “The top whiskeys spanned across categories from bourbon to Scotch, flavored, and Japanese whisky.”

Though whiskey sales tend to increase during colder winter months, its overwhelming popularity among new releases this quarter could signal this traditional spirit is gaining new interest.

In other categories seasonal norms still held, with gift sets, tequilas, and ready-to-drink (RTD) products making the list. Gift sets in particular made up 10 percent of the most popular new releases, including Drizly’s curated wine set A Toast to You, and the On the Rocks Cocktail Bundle.

Read on for BevAlc Insights’ analysis of Q4’s best-selling new products, and how retailers can take advantage of their popularity.

Special-Edition Whiskeys Dominate

Whiskey was the clear winner in Q4, yet no single subcategory dominated the popular new releases this season. Instead, consumers reached for specialty bottlings across whiskey subcategories. 

“Retailers can leverage this data to make stocking decisions in the new year as these products represent the areas of product innovation that consumers are most inclined to try,” says Paquette. “Seasonality certainly plays a major role here, however, the popularity of new releases demonstrates strong consumer interests in trying new products within the category, particularly special- and limited-edition releases.”

Bourbon is the most popular whiskey subcategory on Drizly, accounting for 39 percent of share in 2022, and it was the most popular whiskey subcategory for new releases in Q4. Five of the top 20 new products were bourbons – all limited-edition releases split between legacy brands and newcomers. Among well-established bourbon brands, the Old Forester King Ranch Bourbon, Basil Hayden Red Wine Cask Finish Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, and Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series BRT-02 made the top new products list. Among newcomers, 

the Kentucky Owl Takumi Limited Edition Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 2XO The Phoenix Blend Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and Wyoming Ten Year Anniversary Edition Straight Bourbon Whiskey were popular with Drizly users. 

Single-malt whiskey, which accounted for just one percent of whiskey sales on Drizly in 2022, captured 20 percent of the top new products list in Q4 of 2022. Single malt is a traditional gift during the winter months, which may have accounted for its popularity on the list. Similar to bourbons, the single malt bestsellers were special-edition releases including the Bruichladdich Octomore 13.2 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Ardbeg Hypernova The Ultimate Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky The Second Red Rose, and The Macallan Classic Cut 2022 Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Skrewball Eggnog Whiskey was the lone flavored offering to make the list, while WhistlePig Rye Boss Hog 9 Sirens Songs was the only rye whiskey. Hibiki Blossom Japanese Harmony and The Macallan Harmony Collection Intense Arabica Scotch Whisky also made the top new products list. 

Tequila Remains Popular

Tequila, one of the fastest-rising spirits categories, also showed its staying power among this season’s top new releases, accounting for two of the top 20 most popular new products. Similar to whiskey, special edition tequilas were the most popular. The El Tesoro 85th Anniversary Extra Añejo Tequila and SALT Tequila Berry both scored spots among the best-selling new products.

Seasonality Drives Product Innovation

Across categories, seasonality was a key driver behind the popular new product releases this quarter – both in what was and what was not included on the list. 

Devil’s Backbone Smash Variety Pack and the On the Rocks Cocktail Bundle were the only hard seltzer and RTD innovations represented. While their inclusion indicates there is still room for growth in these categories, Paquette notes the reduction of ready-to-drink options on the list isn’t surprising – but shouldn’t stop retailers from stocking these drinks. 

“Both of these categories have seen strong growth in the past year, particularly RTD cocktails which continue to see year over year share growth,” she says. “However, both of these categories are seasonal, typically seeing spikes during the summer months and lowest share during the winter months, so the majority of the new releases typically come leading into the key sales season. 

Similarly, excluding the A Toast to You gift set, both beer and wine were notably absent from the most popular products list, another seasonal trend according to Paquette: “Typically we do see the majority of beer and wine innovations rise leading into spring and summer,” she explains. “However, liquor’s dominance on this list does suggest that the growing share of the spirits category we have seen in the past couple of years is likely to continue into 2023.“