Key whisky trends for the futureBy Amy Hopkins
The world has yet to end its love affair with whisky and the spirit’s golden era remains in full swing, but which trends are set to further entice consumers in the future?
While the entire category continues to battle a demonstrable lack of aged stocks and a sharp slowdown in China, the future still looks bright for whisky, which is set for greater innovation than ever before.
Spiros Malandrakis, senior alcoholic drinks analyst at consumer market research company Euromonitor International, identifies what exciting developments are poised to take industry by storm.
Looking at Scotch, Irish, American, Japanese, Canadian, and world whiskies, he identifies the key whisky trends for the future.
Click through the following pages to see Malandrakis’s predictions for each category.
The Spirits Business also recently featured Malandrakis’s 10 predicted key spirits trends for 2014.
Scotch Whisky Galore
According to Malandrakis, the introduction of the Spirits Verification Scheme in the UK will “tighten production methods, cement the category’s clout and draw a line in the proverbial peat for the waves of adulterated and counterfeit products hitting still insatiable emerging markets”.
Meanwhile, a “hefty measure of confidence” will follow the Scotch industry’s plans for increased production, investments and the re-opening of numerous once mothballed distilleries despite “on-going developing market volatility”.
Malandrakis also identifies immersive retail “embassies”, such as the ‘House of Diageo’ in Seoul, will push forward the categories “premiumisation offensive”. Imaginative and irreverent marketing campaigns, such as Ballantine’s online campaign featuring a skateboarder re-enacting Carmen, will further target millennial consumers.
As aged stocks continue to elude many producers, they are predicted to being no-age-statements to the fore, placing strong narratives over “clinically conservative maturation dates” and allowing greater “room for experimentation”.
Niche products like premium single grain or Kosher certified offerings are also set to push forward new tasting approaches such as food pairing initiatives.
Luck of the Irish
Emerging artisan brands and a “tactical embrace of heritage” will help the category’s advance its higher end aspirations and a “moderate, tentative yet increasingly more progressive” approach to flavours will continue to attract younger consumers to the dark spirits category.
With a raft of new distilleries set for the completion in the next couple of years, Irish whiskey is one of the whisky category’s main talking points.
Jockey Full of Bourbon
The current boom in Prohibition cocktails served in the on-trade across the world, “fearless experimentation”, pop culture references (most notably in Mad Men), and a plethora of prestigious awards, mean that “American whiskey will retain the limelight for the foreseeable future”.
In particular, Malandrakis predicts that overproof offerings will finally move centre stage as Maker’s Mark’s announcement that it planned to lower the abv of its iconic recipe in order to stretch limited stocks “served as cautionary tale moving forward.”
While Diageo’s recent move to raise Bulleit’s abv to 45% “should be viewed as a sign that the ovenproof allure goes beyond irreverent microdistillers”.
Due to its “meticulously crafted offerings” and “perfectionist attention to detail”, higher end Japanese whiskies are poised to rival those of Scotch.
Its domestic market will continue to indulge in pervasive highball cocktails using lower and mid range bottlings, while exports will gain further traction, particularly in light of Suntory’s high profile recent acquisition of Beam Inc which will increase its access to distribution networks and expertise in western markets.
Canadian and the Others
Describing Canadian whisky as a “niche” category “with great untapped potential”, Malandrakis notes its retention of its “casual character and affordability while finally embracing flavour sophistication”.
Other whiskeys, a category that is by definition dominated by lower end varietals in India, will retain its role as a stepping stone for aspiring drinkers to later graduate into blended and single malts.
Meanwhile due to “temporary macroeconomic blips”, other whiskey will also witness unlikely additions.”Microdistilleries popping up from Sweden to France will deconstruct established notions about the entire category and push experimentation and industry definitions to their limits,” says Malandrakis.