The tremendous growth experienced by the whiskey industry over the last few years shows no signs of slowing down in 2023. Challenges remain to be sure, like continued supply chain disruption. But there are plenty of exciting whiskey trends to expect on the horizon for enthusiasts. Read on for our 2023 whiskey trends and predictions.
Focus on Terroir: Wine drinkers aren’t the only ones tossing around the French term “terroir” anymore. In 2023, whiskey trends will inspire producers to emphasize the importance of terroir, or the precise combination of soil, climate, sun, and other conditions that affect the taste and quality of a finished whiskey. Grain-to-glass distillers in particular will bring this concept to the forefront, creating distinctive flavors through the exclusive use of high-quality local ingredients. Keep an eye out for distilleries celebrating their proximity to mountain streams, as well as the unique aromas and flavors found in grains cultivated close to home.
Focus on Sustainability: Millennial and Gen-Z consumers have now firmly established that they are willing to pay more for sustainably produced goods. These groups gravitate toward locally-sourced ingredients, which accounts for the rising interest in grain-to-glass distilleries. Bill Henderson, CEO of Laneta Tequila, sees today’s consumers as a departure from their predecessors. “For this generation that is younger, it is less about quantity and more about quality. The idea of better ingredients that are also produced through a responsible process, is a priority and a must for the younger generations who are more educated about our carbon footprint.” Premiumization, or the rise of higher-priced spirits (see below), will ease the pressure on producers who face rising costs as sustainability initiatives demand additional investment.
Premiumization: Speaking of premiumization, as consumers demand more sustainably and locally-sourced whiskeys, prices must rise to cover additional production costs. And experts predict that whiskey enthusiasts will continue to have an appetite for high end spirits in 2023. Guy Brennan, founder of Procera Gin, says the desire for higher priced premium products is all about principles. “That’s where shared values come into play — particularly with younger consumers. These consumers will pay more for brands that share their values and what is important to them.”
More Limited-Edition Bottling: As people navigated the uncharted territory of a global pandemic, many sought connection in the virtual world. As a result, the formation of online groups skyrocketed. New communities of whiskey enthusiasts popped up across social channels, and as group members shared recommendations, hard-to-find bottles flew off the shelves. To keep up with demand (fueled partially by the tastes of these expansive social media communities), distillers will invest in more limited edition bottling in 2023. This may include brands looking to partner with celebrities on premium releases, as celebrity investment in the spirits industry continues to be a boon. Remember George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila company? It was sold to Diageo for over $1 billion a few years ago. And Formula One racing star and former British Champion, Jenson Button, partnered with our founder George Koutsakis to launch Coachbuilt, which is a premium Scotch blended whisky. Bottom line: expect to see more celebrity faces appearing in the wild world of whiskey next year.
Investment in Customer-Facing Events and Facilities: The hospitality industry is having a resurgence as restrictions ushered in during the pandemic are slowly lifted. Whiskey distilleries are well-known for their on-premise offerings, which range from tours to gourmet dining. Expect to see more creative plans to attract visitors, as well as investments in bars and restaurants from distilleries that were not originally open to the public. One reason for that shift is the power of in-person experiences to drive customer loyalty. Deke Dunne, head bartender and beverage director of DC’s Allegory Speakeasy Bar, puts it this way. “I think that on-premise has a massive effect on off-premise. If you look at the to-go boom during the pandemic, off-premise guests wanted high-quality cocktails because of their experiences at on-premise bars.” Live music, family festivals, comedy nights, fundraisers, and social media-ready cocktails … these whiskey trends are all happening at your local distilleries in 2023.
Growing Enthusiasm for the Single Barrel Experience: Who doesn’t like the feeling of owning a truly one-of-a-kind product? The whiskey industry is no exception, and with trendy whiskeys remaining difficult to score due to supply chain issues, many whiskey lovers are looking for other options. Single barrel whiskeys, which are not blended with other whiskeys for uniformity like many commercial products, will continue to move into the mainstream in 2023. Whiskey enthusiasts love the uniqueness of this premium class of whiskey, which they rightly see as an opportunity to diversify their collections.
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