Top Brands 2023: Getting in the spirit


  1. Smirnoff

  2. Absolut

  3. Cîroc 

  4. Grey Goose

  5. Ketel One



  1. Captain Morgan

  2. Bacardi

  3. Kraken

  4. Havana Club (dark)

  5. Havana Club (white)



  1. Gordon’s

  2. Tanqueray

  3. Beefeater

  4. Bombay Sapphire

  5. Hendrick’s



  1. Famous Grouse

  2. Johnnie Walker

  3. Whyte & Mackay

  4. Glenfiddich

  5. Bell’s

(Figures provided by CGA for SLTN’s annual Top Brands feature)


It wasn’t that many years ago that CGA’s figures led us to believe that gin could be on track to overtake vodka as the biggest spirit in the Scottish on-trade.

Fast forward a few short years and, not only has that not happened, but gin itself has now been overtaken – albeit only just – to fall into third place. 

Although CGA measures golden/dark rum and white rum separately, when the figures are combined the rum category overall achieved sales of £153m, narrowly overtaking gin’s £151m. 

This was despite gin sales increasing from £140m in last year’s figures – so it can’t be said the category is in decline. 

In fact, Raúl Blanco of gin producer Puerto de Indias told SLTN earlier this year that the UK continues to be ‘a huge market for the gin category’.

“In fact, it is the biggest market for flavoured gin in the world, with more than 22 million bottles sold in 2022,” said Blanco.

Rum, however, has performed particularly strongly, with sales of both darker and white rums increasing in value over the past year.

The big brands – Captain Morgan, Bacardi, Kraken and Havana Club – remain the biggest-sellers, but Scotland also has a growing number of homegrown rum brands, including Mattugga, Ninefold, Jacobite and North Point. 

Last month saw the Scottish Rum Festival become an in-person event for the first time, with Ninefold director Kit Caruthers saying Scottish rum distillers ‘are at the forefront of a new wave of UK-distilled and blended rums’.

In total, Scottish pub and bar customers spent more than £700 million on spirits serves between summer 2022 and 2023, with Diageo’s Smirnoff, Captain Morgan and Gordon’s brands at the head of the table. 

Vodka is still the king of the castle in spirits terms, with sales of more than £244m. 

At the top end of the vodka table the only big change this year was Ketel One and Glen’s swapping positions for fifth place. 

Elsewhere, Scotch whisky sales grew by nearly £20m to £96.5m, with imported whiskey growing to £41m in value. 

Tequila – long a favourite of bartenders – is now worth £19m in Scottish venues, with brandy taking £12m at the till in the past year.