As pubs, bars and restaurants gear up for Burns Night celebrations today (25 January), CGA data reveals its effect on trading—as well as valuable opportunities to grow sales further.

Many operators have lined up special events and promotions around Burns Night, including special menus, drinks tastings and brand partnerships. Scotch whisky is the drink that has been traditionally aligned with the celebrations, and CGA’s trading data shows that 2018’s Burns Night saw malt whisky sales rise by 25% against the average. But perhaps surprisingly, beer and cider categories saw an even sharper uplift in sales in managed outlets, with LAD categories recording an average sales increase of 60%.

CGA’s data shows that total whiskey sales have fallen by 2.5% in value terms over the last year, with Scotch whisky dented by a 4.2% decline. But there remain more than 4.5 million consumers drinking whisky out of home—10% of the adult population—and 59% of them drink Scotch.

These figures all suggest that there is more headroom to grow whisky sales on Burns Night and more generally—especially as many whisky brands align with current trends for high quality, authentic and British drinks. Indeed, data from CGA’s Influencer Report has highlighted the category as one to watch, with leading figures from the most influential bars across London planning to increase whisky ranges at a greater rate than any other category.

Extending beyond bartenders to consumers, whisky was the third most popular category in which influential consumers were increasing consumption, after the more niche categories of vermouth and mescal. Called out as a manageable entry point to an often complex category, highball serves were highlighted as a trend to watch.

It remains the premium and artisan end of the market showing noticeably strong potential, with malt Scotch whisky sales having increased by 2.5% in the last year. Super premium blended Scotch whisky, in particular, has demonstrated strong volume growth of over 20%, coinciding with a drop in average price of a 25ml serve from £6.16 to £5.65 over the last year as it becomes more accessible for drinkers looking for a high-quality drink at an affordable price.

Trading customers up to premium options is another opportunity: malt whisky drinkers tend to be relatively affluent, and two thirds (68%) of them say they choose premium options or are willing to spend more for better quality. CGA’s consumer segmentation tools meanwhile indicate that malt whisky drinkers are more likely to be Trending Tastemakers and Sparkling Socialisers: early adopters of new brands, as well as high-impact influencers and heavy spenders on general out of home drinking.

For more information about the whisky category, contact


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