Beyond Bourbon: The Global Thirst for American Whiskey

American Whiskey
-American-whiskey.com on the category’s staggering growth and the reasons behind it-

The facts:

On the rocks, in the mix, classic and complex – the multifaceted American whiskey category has enjoyed continuous global market growth over the last five years, increasing by 12% a year since 2009.
*Distilled Spirits Council of the US, 2015

Exports to overseas markets such as the U.K., Canada, and Germany have more than doubled in the past decade, from $743 million in 2005 to a projected $1.56 billion last year.
*The Drinks Business 2015

The US whiskey market has seen rocketing sales in the past decade with bourbon production alone growing by more than 150%.
*Distilled Spirits Council of the US, 2015

And while bourbon is the most popular and well-known variant of American whiskey, it most certainly isn’t the only option when considering a foray into the world of American whiskey; with three additional main taste profiles available to the consumer including Tennessee, Rye and Corn.

American-whiskey.com, which brings Brown Forman’s portfolio within the category to life by educating spirit drinkers on the heritage and versatility of the liquid; largely attributes American Whiskey’s continuous success to ‘being in the right place at the right time.’

Wider international trends around innovation and craft, premiumisation, and revivalism, along with a wider understanding as to ‘how to enjoy American whiskey’, have naturally come to the category – which has supported a cultural shift in perceptions and attitudes.

The reasons:

The mixology trend: The growth of the premium cocktail market, along with influential bartenders championing bourbon and rye as mixers, have played a large part in inspiring consumers to understand where and how they can enjoy their whiskey, their way.

American-inspired cuisine: The increased popularity in American whiskey coincides with the rising appeal of American-inspired cuisine. The proliferation of upscale, authentic burger and rib eateries, along with the growing premium casual dining scene – think street food markets, trucks and pop-ups; offers the consumer a more accessible and credible opportunity to enjoy American whiskey.

Pop culture and television: The popularity of television shows such as Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire has been beneficial to American whiskey; both of which introduced classic American serves and golden age cocktails to new audiences, while giving whisky brands the ability to contemporize and modernize with credibility.

This trend has been further echoed in the UK with the opening of nostalgic, ‘speak easy’ style bars across London including Night Jar, The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town and The Vault, hidden behind a bookshelf in London’s oldest whisky shop.

Craft, heritage and authenticity: Platforms such as American-whiskey.com provide the wider story behind the craft of America’s four whiskey taste profiles, offering intrigue and reason for consumers to learn about, and grow with, what they are drinking.

Taking this to the next level is the rise of ‘Bourbon Tourism,’ with increasing visitors from all 50 states and 50 countries across the world flocking to Kentucky to follow the Bourbon Trail and learn about its heritage.

Innovation and flavor variants: Making it easier for a younger generation to join the category, American whisky producers have been willing to add flavoured whiskeys to their collections, which has in the past been avoided by the whisky industry.

This trend is part of the broader growth in popularity of flavoured spirits, producing milder tastes, more accessible to younger drinkers and increasing their prominence in cocktails.

Prime examples of this are Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Tennessee Fire.

Entry level and broad appeal: The whisky category is set-up with a consumer journey of clear stepping-stones. A drinker can enter with a familiar brand and a mixer and evolve through a range of brands’ age-statement products over time, to more premium and occasion led serves.

Furthermore, American whisky offers broad appeal and broad usage. In stark contrast to the likes of vodka and gin, American whisky offers drinkers a substantial spectrum of price range and taste profiles. These spectrums are populated with brands that range from the artisan to the supermarket staple; all of which are great for gifting, seen as luxury, personalized and with a level of connoisseur; all playing on wider popular, social trends.

Social Media: The proliferation of social media has also helped push American whiskey into the mainstream.

From big brand players to craft innovators, American whiskey’s international popularity shows no sign of slowing.

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