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.

America’s First Bottled Bourbon: Your First Choice This Father’s Day

Old Forester 70cl

Old Forester, America’s first bottled bourbon, is the ideal gift for those looking to treat their Dads this Father’s Day. With a history as rich as its taste, Old Forester is the only bourbon that has been available pre, post and during Prohibition, and to this day is still made by the same founding family.

The Kentucky straight bourbon whisky was first created by George Garvin Brown in 1870 in Louisville. Brown was a pharmacist, and recognised an early need for a reliably high-quality whisky, that met medicinal standards. The bottle still bears a handwritten guarantee from him, and it is these consistently impeccable standards of craft in production that have lead to Old Forester becoming recognised amongst top bartenders around the world.

Made using a recipe, which is in keeping of when it was first introduced in 1870, the high in rye bourbon, is full bodied and rich. The spirit delivers a genuine bourbon experience, and smooth character, making it perfect for a Whiskey Smash, the traditional Whiskey Sour cocktail, or sipping neat.

The rich story behind Old Forester and accessibility as a spirit, make it the ideal, thoughtful gift for whisky fans this Father’s Day.

 

Old Forester

Old Forester

Repeal Day.

Some of you may have come across this day. It’s a celebrated event as it marks the occasion of the repeal of Prohibition in the United States, accomplished with the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution on December 5th 1933. It’s with this historic day in the history of alcohol production that Old Forester bourbon made its mark this year as the brand is officially the longest running bourbon on the market today (144 years) and is the only bourbon to be bottled pre, during and post prohibition.

It’s astonishing then that I’m only just sitting down and really taking a look at the brand. So here goes.

Old Forester originates back to 1870, and is the brain child of George Garvin Brown, a gentleman who based himself on Main Street (322 W. Main Street to be exact), the center of Louisville’s whiskey economy through the early 20th century. George sought to have America’s first bottled bourbon; not only sold in sealed glass bottles, but each made according to Brown’s 1870 Original Batch process of batching barrels from three distilleries to create a consistent flavor profile.
In 1897, Bottled in Bond Old Forester was presented at 100 proof in sealed bottles to comply with the legal regulations specified by the U.S. Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. This followed the legend that involves Old Forester and the now classic cocktail ‘Old Fashioned’, where it was deemed that the local Louisville’s Hometown Bourbon was used in the 1880’s.

In 1910, Old Forester Old Fine Whisky robust small batch was created on Whiskey Row, but in 1920, Prohibiton begins and saw many distilleries close. But the company, now named Brown-Forman after being originally named J.T.S. Brown and Bro., applies for and receives a federal license to continue producing Old Forester for medicinal purposes. 4 years later, Old Forester operations move from Whiskey Row to 18th and Howard streets in Louisville, and in 1933, Prohibition is repealed. Old Forester production is increased and, as mentioned, today Old Forester is the only bourbon continually distilled and marketed by the founding family before, during and after Prohibition.

1935 saw the Old Forester barrel entry proof established at 125 proof to comply with new post-Prohibition federal standards for distilled spirits, and in 1941, an Old Forester plant begins producing industrial alcohol to help World War II efforts.
1946 saw the purchase of the Bluegrass Cooperage, which today is known as the Brown-Forman Cooperage, to make Old Forester whisky barrels. To this day it’s the only cooperage owned by a major distiller!

In 2002, Old Forester celebrated the 156th birthday of founder George Garvin Brown with a limited-edition Old Forester Birthday Bourbon™ on his birthday, Sept 2. A year later, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon receives the title of American Whisky of the Year at WhiskyFest New York and in 2015, Old Forester Mint Julep is named Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby®, a race starting back in 1875.

So what makes Old Forester stand out to the other bourbons available?

Well the 86 proof version, or the one you are likely to see in many a bar, is twice distilled and uses a grain recipe of corn, rye and malted barley. You also have the Signature 100 proof which uses only a selection of barrels available, and the original 1870 batch which see’s select barrels from three warehouses, each barrel originating from a different day of production, with a different entry proof and a different age profile, then batched together.

But how does the 86 proof fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Old Forester – 43%

Floral notes of tobacco and vanilla on the nose, with a subtle orange zest coming through slowly. Thick on the palate, with a good kick of oak, fudge and caramel to begin-with, turning to a lively, fresh butter and orange finish that’s long, slightly sharp and offering hints of honey.

A great dram to be enjoyed on its own, but what about a twist on a Blood and Sand perhaps using Old Forester, spiced pineapple and vanilla as recommended by Massimo Zitti of Cane and Grain in Manchester? Or maybe the Kentucky Derby favourite?

Old Forester - Mint Julep
Mint Julep

Mint Julep

Glass – 

Julep Tin

Ingredients – 

60 ml Old Forester
25 ml Simple Syrup
8-10 mint leaves
3 mint sprigs, for garnish

Method –

Rub 8-10 mint leaves along the inside of a mint julep cup. Pack mint julep cup with crushed ice. Pour bourbon and syrup over ice. Swizzle with swizzle stick or bar spoon. Top with ice and garnish with 3 generous sprigs of mint. *Make sure to slap mint and insert straw into ice near mint.

A recommended bourbon for sure when it comes to stocking your drinks cabinet. The brand offers a liquid that is unique to the American industry, and with its versatility, it really shows off how bourbon would have been enjoyed not only today, but back in the 1800’s too.

* Thank you to Massimo Zitti of Cane and Grain in Manchester for showing off some of his Old Forester bourbon cocktail skills to me.*

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.