SMWH: Whiskey trends & innovations

The world of whiskey

Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough. 100 years on Mark Twain’s infamous observation rings truer than ever. One of the most popular spirits in the world, with over 20 billion dollars in global sales annually, its growth is forecast to be near $108 billion by 2027.

As consumers become more discerning, whiskey producers are finding new ways to meet their demands. From the rise of craft distilleries to the increasing popularity of flavoured whiskeys and innovative ageing techniques, innovation is rife in this burgeoning category.

In this edition of Show Me What’s Hot, we’ll take you through some of the most popular trends in whiskey today and how they’re shaping the future of this beloved spirit. Whether a seasoned aficionado or just beginning exploration in the world of whiskey, this edition of SMWH will give you something to sip on.

Ladies of the barrel: celebrating the trailblazing female master distillers in the whiskey industry​

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Crucial to the success of a distillery, the Master distiller is conductor of the symphony when it comes to creating high-quality and distinctive spirits. For hundreds of years these roles have been occupied by men, but as the industry diversifies several female master distillers are making contributions of note.

One such woman is Victoria MacRae-Samuels, the master distiller at Maker’s Mark for over a decade. She expanded the brand’s offer and was integral to the development of Maker’s 46®, the distillery’s first-ever bourbon. She has since gone on to become Makers VP of Operations – the first woman in the history of Bourbon to do so.

From Beer to Whiskey: Budweiser breaks new ground in India’s booming whiskey market ​

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Image: Magnum Double Barrel

The Indian whiskey market is enormous, generating £15bn in revenue per annum and accounting for a whopping 48% of the world’s whiskey volume. Dominating alcoholic drinks, it has 70% share of throat (compared to beer’s 10%). So, it only makes sense that Budweiser, India number one best selling beer brand, has seized the opportunity by creating their first ever whiskey

Launched in Winter of 2022, Magnum Double Barrel Whiskey is a premium, energetic, gender-neutral proposition that resonates with a younger audience, breaking category norms whilst emanating a clarity that can introduce and invite new drinkers. With the market still in its nascence we’ll be interested to see who follows suit…

Whiskey Reinvented: bold and unconventional blends that will surprise and delight your taste buds​​

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Image: Skrewball

From barrel ageing techniques to non-traditional grains, the innovation within whiskey has seen no limits. Injecting excitement into the category, these remixes and reformulations appeal to the traditional whiskey fans looking for something new and different alongside new drinkers looking for a way in.

The launch of Skrewball, a peanut butter whiskey, is one such example. Founder Steve Yeng developed a best-selling peanut butter cocktail after discovering the flavour for the first time, coming to the United States as a refugee. Steven and his wife Brittany teamed up to develop the blend for the ‘local misfits, characters and black sheep’, for whom a whiskey that tasted nothing like it, would resonate.

NFTs and Whiskey: how blockchain technology is disrupting the world of rare and collectible spirits

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While some may view NFTs as a marketing trend, the use of blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionise the way we think about ownership and exchange of assets, both digital and physical. NFTs bring added authenticity, scarcity and value to collectible items - including rare and valuable whiskeys.

Irish Distillers’ Midleton Very Rare The Pinnacle Vintage is the first Irish whiskey to be sold via NFT on this month. Priced at $130,000, the ultra-rare single bottle release sold out in seconds. Although it remains uncertain whether the medium has lasting power, it will be intriguing to observe if and how other brands imitate it.

Sustainable Spirits: how biodynamic farming is cultivating a new wave of whiskey innovation​

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Image: Waterford Distillery

Biodynamic farming is a cutting-edge natural agricultural approach that enhances soil fertility, plant growth, and ecosystem health. Although not widely recognised, some distilleries are experimenting with this method to promote sustainability and ecological stewardship.

Waterford Distillery Group, a premium whiskey distillery specialising in cultivating organically grown barley using biodynamic farming, has received €45m (approx. £39.8m) funding from HSBC UK to support its growth and export strategy. Where money goes, competitors flow; we think there’s plenty of growth in the practice to come.

Whiskey’s New Look: younger, diverse and embracing variety

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Image: Boxpark Croydon

“We’re increasingly seeing whiskey brands break from traditional codes. Missouri’s 360 degree brand world for Chivas’ activation of the Qatar World Cup is just one example of this. Chivas is one of a number of whiskey brands that have become cultural touchstones due to their frequent appearances in pop culture, boosting their popularity and engaging a wider audience.” - Joanna Abdallah, Marketing Manager, Missouri.

Until next time

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