As sales of imported whiskey leapfrog single malt whisky, Jack Daniel's has cautiously welcomed the launch of Intercontinental Brands' Black Star bourbon spirit.

ICB rolled out Black Star (rsp: £9.99) this week to offer 18 to 35-year-olds a bourbon-flavoured spirit at 22% abv compared with the 40% abv of Jack Daniel's.

With its black labelling and white, Western-style lettering, Black Star looks similar to Jack Daniel's, and the Tennessee-based business, which recorded a sales increase of 13% to £90m last year [Nielsen 52w/e 20 March 2010], said it would take appropriate action if the packaging were too similar. Jack Daniel's hadn't seen the bottle as The Grocer went to press.

"We haven't suffered from me-toos before but if it's cheaper and with a lower abv, it will appeal to a very different consumer," said a company spokesman.

The launch comes as sales of imported whiskey increased 13% to £149m over the past year, while sales of malt whisky rose just 3% in value to £136m. Nielsen said Jack Daniel's was driving the imported growth.