Arnold Palmer Spiked Half & Half is the top-selling new flavored malt beverage and the No. 3 new brand in the entire beer and cider category to debut in 2018, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through July 14.

The 5 percent alcohol-by-volume version of the half iced tea, half lemonade drink popularized by its creator and namesake, the late professional golfer Arnold Palmer, is exceeding the company’s projections in part because of strong distribution of its 24-ounce cans along with popularity of its six-packs, says Katie Lombardi, a MillerCoors associate marketing manager who handles Arnold Palmer Spiked.

“There’s a lot of consumer interest and pull-through on our six-packs, and it’s a strong early indicator of where we can take the business,” Lombardi says. “We are encouraged by the distribution we’ve achieved to-date on our 24-ounce can, and we’re continuing to build that velocity.”

The brand in August is partnering with some of its leading chain convenience store retailers on a monthlong buy-one, get-one-free program on its 24-ounce can can to encourage trial, a key to repeat purchase, she says.

Once consumers try the non-carbonated drink made with real juice and tea, they like it, Lombardi says, pointing to brand research and feedback from the market that shows consumers rank Arnold Palmer Spiked highest for “premium” and “quality” among similar FMBs. On top of that, loyalty data from a leading chain retailer shows that some 60 percent of consumers have purchased the brand two or more times.

Made in partnership with Hornell Brewing, a unit of iced-tea maker AriZona Beverages, Arnold Palmer Spiked launched nationally in February in 24-ounce cans and followed in March with six-packs of 12-ounce slim cans.

It came to market alongside several other hard tea brands, and the segment continues to gather momentum. It is among a handful of new or re-imaged MillerCoors products released recently in the red-hot above-premium segment, joining the cider Crispin Rosé, Mexican import Sol and Henry’s Hard Sparkling Water variety packs.

Arnold Palmer Spiked came out of the gates with a boom, selling out at the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament near Phoenix, an event it plans to participate in again in 2019. Arnold Palmer Spiked also sold out at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, which Lombardi says underscores how well the brand performs in daytime, outdoor occasions.

Among all new beer, cider and FMB brands released in 2018, Arnold Palmer Spiked ranks third, ahead of Mike’s Harder variety packs and Founders Solid Gold lager, but behind Bud Light Orange and Michelob Ultra Pure Gold. (Other top-selling brands, such as Corona Premier, Corona Familiar and Angry Orchard Rosé, were tracked in Nielsen scans prior to Jan. 1, 2018.)

“We have a solid proposition with AP Spiked that resonates with consumers,” Lombardi says. “Just six months into launch we have a lot of runway ahead of us, and we’re focused on continuing to build our distribution and velocity, positioning the brand for continued growth.”