Smirnoff may be one of the best-selling liquor brands in the world, but it doesn’t rank among the top ten most valuable spirit brands, according to an annual global ranking by Brand Finance, which 24/7 Tempo consulted for this list. (The British business valuation consultancy firm publishes 100 reports annually ranking 5,000 of the world’s biggest brands of all kinds.)
In fact, no vodka company figures in the top ten – and forget trendy gin or tequila. The most valuable spirits category in the world by far – accounting for six of the top ten brands, including Nos. 1 through 4 – is something few Americans have ever tasted and many have likely never ever heard of.
For the past several years, the top two global liquor brands have been Kweichow Moutai and Wuliangye – both producers of baijiu, China’s national liquor. The clear, fiery grain spirit, typically around 53% alcohol (106 proof), is a staple at holiday celebrations including Lunar New Year, as well as at business events, family reunions, and government banquets. (These are 35 signature drinks from around the world.)
Kweichow Moutai has retained its top spot for the last seven years. In 2017, it became the largest liquor company in the world by market value, overtaking the British multinational company Diageo (owner of Crown Royal, Tanqueray, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, and many other renowned brands). Moutai’s continued dominance over other baijiu brands is due in part to a new mobile app for online ordering as well as a partnership with one of the nation’s largest dairy brands that has launched alcoholic ice cream parlors to attract a younger generation of customers.
The other brands in the top 10 are Diageo’s Johnnie Walker plus Bacardi, Jack Daniel’s, and Hennessey. According to Brand Finance, the fastest-growing spirit brand (though not fast-growing enough to have made it into this year’s top 10), nearly tripling in value since last year, is newcomer Casamigos tequila – a brand co-founded in 2013 by actor George Clooney. (Here are 20 stars with tequila or mezcal brands.)
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