The Rat Pack, Sinatra and the Rusty Nail

Brand Spotlight: Drambuie, then and now


Over the past 60 or 70 years there have been a good number of spirit brands that have reached iconic status: J&B Rare, Tanqueray, Cutty Sark, and Chivas Regal to name a few. Due to changes in trends and tastes, many of the iconic “Rat Pack” brands of the 50s and 60s are no longer in vogue.

I took a look through our Shelftrac data to identify brands that have exhibited increases in retail stocking year-over. I expected to see Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Tito’s Handmade, The Kraken and Deep Eddy. But what about those iconic brands of the 50s and 60s? One brand stuck out: Drambuie. Identified by the Rusty Nail and Frank Sinatra, this brand was once stocking in every liquor store in the country. Even prior to the recession, we saw retail stocking in the mid- to upper 80% of stores. Then, the Great Recession hit. Store stocking fell, consumer tastes became more refined and the cocktail craze began to take hold.

New_drambuie_bottleBy June 2014, Drambuie was stocking in only 54% of stores we visited. Then in September of 2014, supplier William Grant purchased the brand from the MacKinnon family. Things started to change. The Rusty Nail cocktail was relaunched as the cool, hip, drink of Millennials. This on-premise wonder cocktail, along with the distribution network of William Grant, saw off-premise stocking gains of near 15%, with overall off-premise stocking hitting about 70% – a record high since the Great Recession.

Let’s take a look at the Shelftrac data and see how the brand has changed at retail over the last year. Stocking has improved from 54% to 68% since June 2014. Stocking in grocery increased 25% and in drug by 20%. It’s strongest stocking segment, liquor stores, picked up by 10%. Chain grocery outlets yielded the biggest single bump.

Interestingly, while more stores are stocking, shelf facings remained steady at an average of 1.6 facings per store, year-over. In 62% of stores the brand is stocked on the eye level shelf or higher, roughly the same positioning as year ago. The current 750ml price, surprisingly, is roughly in line with its 10 year average, shaving off about $1.40 since last year – but the brand minimizes discounting. When Drambuie is on sale the consumer saves a paltry 2.5%, or 80 cents, on a 750ml, about the same as last year. But, the consumer has little size choice.   Most stores we visited stock the 750ml size; in the 10% or so of stores that stock two sizes the 375ml is the next most popular choice.

You never know what a year will bring. 2015 has been a good year for Drambuie. Let’s see what happens in 2016!


Andrew Esham is vice president and managing director of the Beverage Information & Insights Group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Curated By Logo