Whiskey predictions for 2024

Ideas and trends swarm around the whiskey industry early in the year, suggesting what will be "popular" (or not) in the coming year. They range from who will drink whiskey to how they will drink it. What topics will be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and what topics will be hard to swallow?

We look at what may be influencing your whiskey choices below.

Whiskey Festivals

Festivals may seem like an obvious choice, and before 2020, whiskey festivals across the globe were doing great trade with a lot of footfall. Between 2020 and the end of 2022, there were restrictions on people coming together, and some whiskey festivals transferred to being online or were cancelled completely. From 2022, while we could start going back to festivals, confidence in attendance from producers and consumers was lower than before. However, festivals experienced better attendance by the end of 2023, and we predict this will continue improving in 2024. Not only will there be more people attending events, but there will also be more events to attend.

Some events this coming year include:

Kentucky Bourbon Festival 2024 - Distillery Trail

WHISKEY RIOT

If you would like to know more about festivals in general, take a look at our article on whiskey festivals here: Wonderful world of Whiskey & Bourbon Festivals - Barrel Global

RTD (Ready to Drink)

Again, the global pandemic stopped us from going into bars and clubs for a while, and when they were able to meet, some turned to experimenting with home bars, making cocktails, and exploring different drinks. A great way to drink whiskey and bourbon is, of course, in a cocktail. Innovators within the spirits industry are tapping into this and creating a wide range of convenient and tasty “cocktails in a can,” ranging from a simple bourbon and cola to a classic Espresso Martini.

Sustainability in the whiskey industry

While the environment and climate have been part of production considerations for a long time, global awareness has increased, and many companies are looking more closely at how to reduce their impact on the environment during their production and distribution processes. From using local ingredients and reducing carbon footprint in production to reviewing and revising packaging materials, we expect more focus on sustainability across the industry in the future. Not only will legislation influence this, but consumers will also become more conscious of their input on climate issues.

For more information on how some companies are adapting, check this article: Sustainable Development Initiatives in the US for Whiskey Production (d4pack.com)

The demise of the social media whiskey influencer

Over the last few years, and again, likely in response to the global pandemic, the whiskey "influencer" has held our attention via Instagram, podcasts, and blogs. Drammers were a captive audience for a couple of years, and while we couldn’t go to bars and clubs, the industry quickly pivoted to selling us their wares via online tastings, whiskey mail (subscriptions where samples could be sent you at home), and virtual "pubs.”

What easier way for distilleries to get their products to us than having influencers receive some free samples or bottles to tell us about? Content creators could utilize every social media platform, and it worked. However, the bubble is bursting; being a content maker or influencer takes time and money to invest in a good kit, and of course, a captive audience helps. Real-life interactions and jobs now replace free time. The loose promise of fame and financial gain rarely comes in the form of actual cash, and bottles of whiskey don't pay the rent.

Companies are back on the road with in-person events, and the brand ambassador is back.

An increase in product transparency

Whiskey drinkers are becoming increasingly interested in the products they choose, from production methods to where the ingredients originate to how long the liquid has spent in each barrel if not a single cask. If a dram is a blend, they want to know what is in it. They want technical information, fermentation times, still sizes, and more. While much of this can be obtained from visiting a distillery, we will see more information on labeling either in writing or via a QR code system.

Rise of whiskey fraud

Wherever there is an increased interest in a product with perceived high-level value, there will be those who will take advantage of people who wish to invest in that product, whether it be art, jewelry, or whiskey. There has been an increase in the number of companies purporting to sell high-end rare bottles of whisky, whiskey, and bourbon, as well as those selling cask investments. Of course, with Barrel Global, you are welcome to contact our team to discuss your current or prospective investment, and we will gladly discuss your options.

We are on a mission to make whiskey barrel ownership accessible to collectors worldwide. As the first-ever global marketplace for whiskey barrels, you can connect with distilleries and collectors worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Wonderful world of Whiskey & Bourbon Festivals

At the beginning of the year, after we drag our weary bones through what always seems the longest month of the year (January, just in case you didn't realize!), we receive our first paycheck since what seems like months ago. We congratulate ourselves on several trips to the gym and maybe even completing dry January (Dry January... - Barrel Global ). But as we rub our tired eyes and eye the horizon of the coming year, something that makes us look forward to the coming months is whiskey and bourbon festivals.

If your happy place is whisky, whiskey, and bourbon, then a festival is something you look forward to attending at some point in the year. However, regardless of how long they have been drinking our favorite grain-based spirits, many people have never been to one. So, we will give you a quick Whiskey Festival #101.

What IS a whiskey or bourbon festival?

It's an event where a number of producers/distilleries come together in one space for anything from a few hours to a few days to bring their product to the consumer for them to try.

Where can I find a whiskey or bourbon festival?

Well, if a country produces it and/or drinks it, you can be sure that a festival will be taking place somewhere at some time. If you enter "whiskey festivals 2024 US" into a search engine, you will get several returns; hopefully, some will be near you.

How big is a whiskey or bourbon festival?

Whiskey festivals can range from a small town hall for an afternoon to large conference centers or similar for a few days. The larger the event, the wider the range of distilleries in attendance, which will impact ticket pricing.

Who goes to a whiskey or bourbon festival?

Anyone with an interest in the drams and the industry. Some festivals may have different “days.” For example, a large event over three days may have one day for trade and press and the other days for everyone.

People go in groups of friends, a whiskey club may use it as a trip for the club, and many will attend solo. The only people who don't go are under the legal drinking age in their country or don't like bourbon or whiskey.

How much does it cost, and what do I get for my money?

This depends entirely on the festival organizers. There are a couple of standard formats:

  1. Your ticket price will include access to all drams within a “session,” and more often now, some meal or food choice during your paid-for session. You will receive some sort of glass for your dramming and other "merch" that the organizers want to pass to you.
  2. The token system: with this system, you may pay a lower fee for an entry ticket, which may or may not give access to various products. On top of this, you can purchase "tokens" at different pricing levels, which you can then exchange for higher premium whiskies or bourbons.

Read the ticket conditions closely so you know what to expect.

Whiskey and Bourbon Festival etiquette

You will note that some festivals now state the expectations of behavior at a festival on their websites. Of course, people are likely to become inebriated; alcohol is involved. But there is a big difference between being a little tipsy and unable to stand up.

The organizers and the producers want you to have a brilliant time, talk to their ambassadors, learn about the industry, the whiskey, the bourbon, and go away having had a great time, bought their whiskey, and want to return next year.

Some basics:

DON’T BE A ROOKIE!!

You may have been drinking bourbon or whiskey for decades but have never been to a festival, or you have just started your foray into this brilliant drink. But what both these people have in common is that they are confronted with a room full of bourbon and no cap on how much they are allowed to drink; it's like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The urge to try everything is strong, and even with small pours, after a couple of hours, you are drunk and being escorted out. Don’t be this person*.

(*we’ve all been this person, and after the first time, it’s doubtful we will do it again)

The most sensible approach to a festival is planning, even if it's just a little bit. Check the list of distilleries in attendance and what expressions they will be bringing (not all shows provide the latter information, but some do), and note those you have yet to try or expressions from a distillery you want to try. If you think about it, you may love a particular dram and have a bottle at home, so why would you drink it at a festival?

Next is the order of drams*; the best way is to work from low abv to high abv and non-peated to peated. In general, high abv and/or peated will affect your taste buds to the extent that you may not taste too much afterward.

(*some events may have very high-end whiskies available on a token. We'd recommend having this early in a session so you can appreciate what makes it premium. If you have already blasted your tastebuds, it would be a waste, which would be a great shame.)

DRINK WATER!

Always drink more than you think you need. Trust us, you will feel better for it the next day.

EAT. EAT. EAT.

Have a decent meal before the event. A lined stomach will be better for drinking on. If the event provides food, take advantage part of the way through and have a rest.

GENERAL BEHAVIOUR

Watch how much you are drinking. After 6 or 7 pours, your tastebuds will be overloaded, and everything starts to taste a little samey. Have a break. Have a coffee (great for resetting the nose and the tastebuds), drink water, and get fresh air.

Remember, everyone has a right to be at the event. Some stands may be more popular than others; be patient or visit a less busy stand. Be polite to brand ambassadors. They are there to help you enjoy your day, and DON'T ask them if there is anything "special" under the counter.

Another reason for visiting a whiskey or bourbon festival, of course, is research. If you are reading this article, you are likely interested in buying a cask through us or may even have some already. By attending these events, you may meet producers we work with, and there is nothing better than talking to the distillery team about the product while trying it.

We are on a mission to make whiskey barrel ownership accessible to collectors worldwide. As the first-ever global marketplace for whiskey barrels, you can connect with distilleries and collectors worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today