Whiskey has long been an important spirits subcategory on Drizly and it remains head and shoulders above the competition. Though its share of overall liquor category sales declined slightly during the past 12 months from 36 percent to 34 percent, it is still the platform’s best-selling spirits subcategory by a healthy margin. Whiskey is poised for even more growth in 2023 as distillers release new styles and brands for consumers to explore — particularly in the ultra-premium price tier. 

To help retailers stock the whiskey products consumers want most, BevAlc Insights analyzed the best-selling whiskey SKUs on Drizly during the last 12 months and compared the data to that of the previous year. Let this deep dive into the top whiskey SKUs and consumer purchasing trends be your guide as you consider inventory decisions in the months ahead.

Drizly’s 20 Top-Selling Whiskey SKUs, September 2022 – August 2023

  1. Bulleit Bourbon (750ml)
  2. Jameson Irish Whiskey (750ml)
  3. Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey (1.75L)
  4. Jameson Irish Whiskey (1.75L) 
  5. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
  6. Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon (750ml) 
  7. Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky (1.75L)
  8. The Macallan Double Cask 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
  9. Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky (750ml)
  10. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Blended Scotch Whiskey (750ml)
  11. Bulleit Bourbon (1.75L)
  12. Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey (750ml)
  13. Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whisky (750ml)
  14. Basil Hayden Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
  15. Buffalo Trace Bourbon (750ml)
  16. Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey (1.75L)
  17. Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml)
  18. Crown Royal Fine Deluxe Blended Canadian Whisky (1.75L)
  19. Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky (750ml)
  20. Evan Williams Bourbon (1.75L)

Interestingly, seven of the top 20 SKUs are packaged in the 1.75L “handle” size, which suggests that many consumers like buying staples in bulk to mix into cocktails.

Bourbon Is King — and Is Gaining Share

After gaining a percentage point over the last 12 months, bourbon now commands a 40 percent share of whiskey category sales on Drizly. In the same period, bourbon’s closest rival, Scotch whisky, declined from 23 percent share to 22 percent.

Irish whiskey and Canadian whisky each gained one point over the previous year to reach nine percent and four percent share, respectively. Share for all other whiskey subcategories declined or remained flat. 

NielsenIQ (NIQ) figures also show gains for the bourbon subcategory. Dollar sales increased 4.8 percent in the 52 weeks ending August 12, 2023, compared with a 0.3 percent increase for the whiskey category overall. 

Liz Paquette, the head of consumer insights at Drizly, credits the “drink local” movement for the popularity of American whiskey, with bourbon leading the way. “More than half of the whiskey sold on Drizly in the past 12 months was produced in the United States,” she says. “This is supported by an increase in whiskey tourism with many brands opening tasting rooms to allow consumers to connect more closely with these brands.” 

Premiumization Is Still Fueling Growth

The premiumization trend has slowed across most beverage categories, yet higher-end options are a key driver for the whiskey category. On Drizly, the $30 to $40 price category accounts for the largest share of whiskey sales at 18 percent, holding steady over the previous year. The $40 to $50 tier accounts for 13 percent share and products priced in the $50 to $60 range comprise 11 percent share. 

NIQ figures track especially impressive growth for whiskey in the ultra-premium category. During the 52 weeks ending August 12, 2023, products in this price tier saw the largest gain in dollar sales at 1.4 percent. For the popular bourbon subcategory, the ultra-premium tier saw a dollar sales increase of nearly 14 percent and a price per unit cost of more than $60. Dollar sales for American whiskey grew just 2.8 percent overall, while sales of ultra-premium products increased more than 9 percent. 

Even whiskey subcategories whose sales declined overall saw gains in the ultra-premium tier. For example, Irish whiskey sales decreased 0.7 percent, yet products in the ultra-premium tier grew more than 19 percent. Likewise, Japanese whisky declined 2.7 percent overall, but ultra-premium products saw nearly 5 percent growth. 

New Offerings Are Driving Category Buzz

U.S. consumers tend to be loyal to their go-to whiskey brands, Paquette says, but they also crave new offerings and varieties. “Limited and special-edition whiskeys continue to drive buzz among consumers in this category,” she says, “as fans of brands seek new versions of their favorites.”

Adam Rogers, the research director at IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, also believes innovation is fueling the category.

“Consumer interest in whiskey remains unwavering, driven by limited-release offerings, new flavor profiles and origins, and innovative production techniques,” he says. “Interest in exploring whiskey will drive future demand as consumers continually seek new expressions from regions around the world.”

The 10 Fastest-Growing Whiskey SKUs on Drizly

  1. Lagavulin Offerman Edition Double Charred 11-Year-Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  2. The Macallan Harmony Collection Intense Arabica Scotch Whiskey
  3. Heaven’s Door 10-Year Bourbon
  4. The Balvenie 16-Year-Old French Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  5. High Ridge 6-Year-Old Canadian Whisky
  6. The Representative 4-Year-Old Barrel Proof Straight Bourbon
  7. Macallan A Night on Earth in Scotland Whiskey
  8. Jim Beam Apple Bourbon
  9. Cleveland Underground Black Cherry Wood Bourbon Whiskey
  10. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Straight Rye Whiskey

Whiskey’s Reach Is Expanding

In recent years, whiskey has been gaining popularity across a more geographically diverse array of markets. Southern cities tend to over-index on whiskey sales on Drizly, so it’s not surprising that Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta are among the platform’s top 10 markets for whiskey sales. However, the list also includes New York City, Denver, New Jersey, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. In fact, the top three markets for whiskey sales are New York City, Denver, and New Jersey.

Drizly’s fastest-growing markets for whiskey sales also span the country, with Fayetteville, Arkansas; Portland, Oregon; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Norwalk, Connecticut among the top 10. 

Consumers aged 35 to 41 make up the greatest share of whiskey purchasers on Drizly at 25 percent, followed by the 42 to 48 age group and consumers aged 28 to 34. The 35 to 41, 49 to 55, and 63 to 69 age groups all increased share over the previous year.