Top Brands 2017: The biggest names stand their ground

The top five brands in the Scottish on-trade have held their positions

Top brands 2017

CGA Strategy
In conjunction with CGA Strategy

STANDING still isn’t usually seen as a sign of success, but in the case of the five biggest-selling brands in the Scottish on-trade, we can probably make an exception.

All five of last year’s top-selling brands have retained their positions on this year’s list, according to research firm CGA Strategy, which is no mean feat in such a turbulent marketplace.

Tennent’s Lager leads the way, followed by the Diageo heavyweights of Smirnoff, Guinness and Captain Morgan, with Molson Coors again rounding off the top five with Carling.

Further down the list, however, things are a little less stable, with some brands losing ground while others ascend up the rankings.

You will find details of the top 75 biggest-selling alcoholic drinks brands in the Scottish on-trade below, as identified by CGA Strategy.

There is commentary on the top 15 brands, and you can read an overview of some of the Scottish trade’s most significant drinks categories and the brands that have made particular gains in the past year here.

As in previous years, CGA’s data has been compiled from more than 5000 sources, including EPOS data from all types of outlet, as well as wholesalers and distributors.

In the vast majority of cases the ‘total brand family’ is used to represent each brand in the ranked list. However, where a single major brand product accounts for a significant element of total sales within the top 75 then it will be included separately, as applicable.

Readers should also be aware that CGA Strategy’s research model is adjusted on an ongoing basis, at which point historic data is reworked using the updated model. This updated historic data is used to determine whether or not a brand has moved up, down or held position on the table, rather than using a direct comparison with SLTN’s feature last year.

1. Tennent’s Lager, C&C Group  

Tennent's Brewery Trucks

WELLPARK brewery’s most famous son continues to dominate the lager category in the Scottish on-trade.

While other big-name brewers and the craft beer movement continue to make strides in the market, Tennent’s comfortably remains the top dog.

This year has seen the brand’s trademark humour employed in a number of marketing initiatives, including the launch of the ‘Golden Can’ awards, which have been presented to luminaries including Scottish bands Biffy Clyro, Mogwai and Franz Ferdinand, as well as Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh.

2. Smirnoff, Diageo  


WHILE a lot of the talk in the licensed trade is about craft spirits, Smirnoff remains far and away the biggest-selling spirits brand in Scotland’s bars, pubs and clubs.

Diageo’s vodka brand has revolved around inclusiveness in recent years, and in 2017 the brand’s #chooselove campaign tackled the serious issue of online abuse against members of the LGBT+ community.

It’s the kind of message that Smirnoff – a giant not just in Scotland and the UK but around the world – is well-placed to spread.

3. Guinness, Diageo  

Guinness rugby

THE first ever Guinness advert to feature in a national newspaper promoted the stout’s health credentials, including its ability to build strong muscles and enrich the blood. “Guinness is good for you”, proclaimed the ad.

Almost 90 years later and the health lobby would have conniptions at the suggestion of any health benefits in alcohol advertising. But the brand itself is in rude health in Scotland’s bars and pubs.

According to recent Diageo results, Guinness volumes are growing across the UK, which would appear to show that the brand’s marketing investment in events such as St Patrick’s Day and the 6 Nations is paying off.

4. Captain Morgan, Diageo  

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Gold

IT’S plain sailing for Diageo’s favourite privateer, Captain Morgan, which continues to be leagues ahead of its nearest rival in the rum category.

This year the brand’s global ‘live like the captain’ campaign is keeping eyes on the Captain Morgan name, which appears on Captain Morgan Original Rum and Captain Morgan White Rum in addition to Original Spiced Gold.

There are four rum brands in this year’s top brands list, but only Captain Morgan enjoys a position inside the top 20, let alone the top five.

5. Carling, Molson Coors  

MOLSON Coors refreshed the branding of its flagship lager earlier this year, with the new look described as “genuine, dependable and unpretentious”.

The biggest-selling lager across the UK as a whole, Carling increased its ties to British football this year through the sponsorship of Everton FC, following up last year’s deal to become the official partner of the Premier League.

6. Belhaven Best, Greene King  

8. Belhaven Best font & pint

WHILE Belhaven brewery in Dunbar has moved with the times in recent years, introducing new beers to cater to the booming craft market, Best remains the brewery’s biggest export.

The biggest-selling ale in the Scottish on-trade, and holding steady as the sixth-biggest brand overall, Belhaven Best is proof that there is still a healthy demand for traditional keg ales in bars and pubs.

Apparently, Best’s charm doesn’t stop at the border. According to recent Greene King results it’s now the fourth-biggest keg ale in the UK.

7. Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Asahi UK  

A CHANGE of owner appears to have served Peroni well in this year’s rankings.

The Italian powerhouse, which was sold to Japanese firm Asahi in 2016 as part of the ‘mega-merger’ between AB InBev and SABMiller, has moved up to seventh place.

At a time when provenance is seemingly more important than ever, Peroni’s Italian roots have been promoted in the recent ‘Italian Made’ campaign.

8. Stella Artois, AB InBev  

THE very Belgian beer brand is these days tied to a very British sporting tradition, through Stella’s ongoing sponsorship of Wimbledon.

This year, the fourth that Stella Artois has sponsored the tournament, saw parent firm AB InBev distribute a range of promotional material to pubs, which included everything from coasters and bunting to branded heaters and parasols (essential for that British summertime).

9. Strongbow, Heineken  

THOUGH its Swedish rival is gaining (see number 10) Strongbow remains the most popular cider in the Scottish on-trade.

Brand owner Heineken’s decision to extend the Strongbow brand seems to have paid dividends.

While the original cider remains the biggest-selling cider product in the Scottish trade, sister brand Strongbow Dark Fruit has made great strides in this year’s list, shooting up the rankings to number 34.

10. Kopparberg, Kopparberg UK  

KOPPARBERG has arguably helped to transform the cider category in the Scottish on-trade.

In the decade since it first appeared in Scotland’s pubs, the Swedish brand has not only become a staple in fridges, it’s also helped introduce consumers to a very different style of cider.

Added to this, the company refuses to stand still, constantly expanding the cider range with new flavours.

In the past few months this has included the launch of Kopparberg Sparkling Rosé, a 7% ABV cider designed for sharing.

11. Jack Daniel’s, Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands  

FROM the heart of Tennessee to the bars of Scotland, Mr Jack retains its position as the 11th biggest brand on this year’s list, and the third-biggest spirit.

Like many of its contemporaries, the Jack Daniel’s brand has expanded into different categories, and earlier this year entered the cider market for the first time with the launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Cider.

12. Gordon’s, Diageo  

THE gin ‘boom’ appears to have been good for the Gordon’s brand.

As well as moving up the rankings this year, CGA figures have shown that the brand has grown its sales in value terms in the Scottish trade – an impressive result given its already sizeable presence.

At a time when gin distilleries are popping up all over Scotland, it seems there’s a real argument that bigger really is best.

13. Deuchars IPA, Heineken  

Picture 152

HEINEKEN-owned Deuchars IPA is one of the staples of the Scottish licensed trade – particularly in its native Edinburgh.

While the explosion of craft beers in Scotland has seen an influx of hop-forward, US-style IPAs, Deuchars IPA continues to be, by some way, the biggest name in Indian pale ales.

Brewed at the historic Caledonian Brewery, Deuchars is closely associated with a long-standing sponsorship of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

14. The Famous Grouse, Edrington Group/Maxxium UK  

THE biggest name in Scotch whisky for decades, The Famous Grouse last year welcomed a new master blender in the form of Kirsteen Campbell.

In addition to its other marketing efforts, The Famous Grouse was the focus of its biggest Christmas campaign to date last year, ensuring the plucky bird kept a high profile with pub customers.

15. Corona, AB InBev  

YOU could be forgiven for thinking that a brand so closely linked to nice weather might struggle to find a place in the near perpetual winter of Scotland, but Corona is proof of the opposite.

Corona’s sunny disposition has been reinforced this summer with the brand’s ‘passport to paradise’ initiative, which gave consumers the chance to win holidays to various exotic destinations.

16. Heineken, Heineken  

17. Jägermeister, Mast-Jaegermeister  

18. Magners Original, C&C Group  

19. John Smith’s, Heineken  

20. Moët & Chandon, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy  

21. Absolut, Pernod Ricard  

22. Foster’s, Heineken  

23. Bacardi, Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands  

24. Caledonia Best, C&C Group  

25. Whyte & Mackay, Whyte & Mackay  

26. Coors Light, Molson Coors  

27. Kronenbourg 1664, Heineken  

28. Glen’s, Loch Lomond Group  

29. Sourz, Maxxium UK  

30. Bombay Sapphire, Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands  

31. Rekorderlig, Molson Coors  

32. Miller Genuine Draft, Asahi UK  

33. Carlsberg, Carlsberg  

34. Strongbow Dark Fruit, Heineken  

35. Budweiser, AB InBev  


36. WKD  

37. Johnnie Walker  

38. Baileys  

39. Tanqueray  

40. Eristoff  

41. Amstel  

42. Crabbie’s  

43. Courvoisier  

44. Luxardo  

45. Stowells  

46. Hendrick’s  

47. Innis & Gunn Lager  

48. Disaronno  

49. Bell’s  

50. Jose Cuervo  

51. Perrier-Jouët  

52. Footsteps  

53. Southern Comfort  

54. Grey Goose  

55. Staropramen  

56. Berri Estates  


57. Birra Moretti  

58. Louis Roederer  

59. VK  

60. Jack Rabbit  

61. Havana  

62. Fantinel  

63. Brewdog Punk IPA  

64. Bulmers  

65. Heverlee  

66. Cobra  

67. Stolichnaya  

68. Estrella Damm  

69. Veuve Clicquot  

70. Sailor Jerry  

71. Beefeater  

72. Smirnoff Ice  

73. Williams Brothers Caesar Augustus  

74. Magners Fruits  

75. Williams Brothers Joker IPA