Launched in Australia late last year, Gentleman Jack and Cola RTD targeted the super-premium RTD category, with Brown-Forman stressing the many benefits of RTDs generally: Convenience, sociability, accessibility and brand status.
But previous premium RTDs had focused on the quantity of the spirit, rather than the quality, the company said at the time of the launch, which reinforced the misnomer that RTDs were not especially aspirational.
Thus Gentleman Jack & Cola (pictured) uses twice charcoal-mellowed whiskey (the only one in the world) to offer a smoother-tasting drink.
Announcing Brown-Forman’s full-year 2012 results yesterday, Donald Berg, CFO, told analysts and investors: “It was nice to see the acceptance level in terms of premiumization at the RTD level.”
For the quarter ending April 30 2013, Brown-Forman's net sales rose 8% to $866m; reported operating income was up 18% to $177m.
Full year net sales were up 5% to $3.784bn, while operating income rose 14% to $898m.
More super-premium RTDs?
Later on during the call, Brown-Forman CEO Paul Varga was asked whether RTDs were reaching the stage where the firm was able to test more super-premium products.
“Is this something we’ll see more in the next 2-3 years versus more of the low-end, convenient, value-priced options?” William Chappell, an analyst from SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, asked.
Gentleman Jack would certainly play in the high end within Australian market, Varga said, noting that the single-serve expression in US craft beer was enormously popular.
“And so we keep a very open mind to the possibility that people will enjoy their drinks when they want to enjoy them, and they’re willing to pay for very high premium quality.
“And whether that happens in beer or spirits or even single-serve wine, if it’s available in some countries around the world.”
Alluding to the Australian Gentleman Jack RTD launch, he added: “So this is a test, honestly, that we’re doing. But as Don said, we’ve been pretty much encouraged by the intial reception too it.”