Sales sweepstakes point upward

Fast Track Brands, Established Growth Brands, Rising Stars and Comeback Brands.

Not exactly cocktail party topics, unless you're in the hospitality business. Then, they're a big deal.

Each year the Adams Beverage Group, the Connecticut company that tracks the beverage alcohol industry and publishes Cheers, Beverage Dynamics and StateWays magazines, analyzes domestic sales in those categories. Here's how Adams breaks them down:

Fast Track Brands: Those with sales exceeding 100,000 9-liter cases in 2006 and double-digit growth over the past four years.

Established Growth Brands: Those operating from huge sales bases, with more modest percentage gains, although total volume can be very high.

Rising Stars: Those showing significant growth but on the market for less than five full years.

Comeback Brands: Those that saw a sales decline two years ago but rebounded last year.

Adams, which will announce the full awards in the March issues of its magazines, provided this advance look at the awards:

"Among those winning Adams Growth Brand spirits awards, Diageo took top honors with seven (led by Captain Morgan Rum and Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch), Pernod-Ricard USA received four (led by Stolichnaya Vodka), and Bacardi took four (led by Bacardi Rum's dominance and Grey Goose Vodka's continued explosive growth). Six other companies (Barton Brands, Beam Global Wine and Spirits, Brown-Forman Beverages, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Moet Hennessy USA and Sidney Frank Importing) saw their spirit brands take home three honors. Impressive brand performance sent honors to Jagermeister, Skyy Vodka, Patron Tequila, Ketel One Vodka and Svedka Vodka as well.

"In the wine category, the Australian phenomenon Yellow Tail continued its dominance among imported wines, while Beringer was the largest volume award winner. Constellation split 13 awards between its Centerra Wine and Pacific Wine Partners divisions, and Robert Mondavi Private Selection. E&J Gallo picked up eight awards, led by the fast moving Barefoot Cellars. Bronco Wine Co., Brown-Forman Beverages and Foster's Wine Estates Americas picked up five awards each. Other high performance brands include Foxhorn, Cavit, Riunite, Lindemans and Clos du Bois.

"In the Established Growth Brands category, of the 27 brands cited, six were vodkas, four tequilas, and three each rums, American whiskies, Cognac/brandy or cordials."

Overall, according to Adams researchers, spirits were up in 2006 in volume by 3.7 percent, while wine overall grew 3.4 percent, a continuation of a multi-year growth spurt.

To Dowd's Spirits Notebook latest entry.
To Dowd's Wine Notebook latest entry.
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