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Johnnie Walker strides to the top

The brand and its various expressions are managed in South Africa by brandhouse, a Cape Town-based joint venture partly owned by Diageo, which owns Johnnie Walker.

Every year the Power 100 survey researches alcoholic beverage brands globally to draw up a list of the 100 most powerful brands worldwide. Rating criteria includes share of the market, potential for future growth and customer awareness.

Stuart Whitwell, of Intangible Business, which produces the Power 100, said: “The growth of Scotch whisky is mostly down to the rising middle classes in China whose thirst for premium brands reflects growing aspirations.”

A top 10 contender for the past few years, Johnnie Walker, which originated in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, more than 150 years ago, has overtaken Smirnoff vodka thanks to growing demand in China and Eastern Europe, industry experts say.

Aside from Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff, other Diageo brands within the top 10 of the Power 100 include Captain Morgan and Bacardi.

Melanie Campbell, Johnnie Walker marketing manager in South Africa said: “On a local level, whisky has also become popular with the aspirational middle class, and it is the fastest-growing spirit in South Africa, with its growth outpacing even cider and beer.”

According to the SA Wine Industry & Information Systems, South Africa is now the sixth-largest market for whisky by volume and the seventh by value. South Africa is one of the top 10 Scotch whisky markets for Diageo.