Future Trends Spirits Category

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Spirits - Consumer Insights and Trends.

The three expected future consumer trends in the spirits category, specifically for the whiskey/brown spirits category, include dessert-inspired spirits, unique barrel finishes, and balance between brands and age statements.


  • According to trend reports, American whiskey is in a new golden era.
  • Category sales have reached record highs that have last been seen in the 1960s, which was the last time brown spirits experienced a boom.
  • Spirits are considered to be a growing category and there is a lot more room (and years) to grow, making each trend recorded right now an ongoing movement that be relevant during the golden era.


  • Dessert-inspired spirits are spirits that sweeten consumers’ palates and are considered to be a top spirits trend in a report this year and years to come in the golden era.
  • According to a digital media company GlobalData, sweet dessert-inspired offerings are designed to "entice consumers by providing innovative creations to appeal to the sweeter, more experimental palate."
  • According to experts, younger consumers, especially Millennials, do not demand "traditional beverages that their older peers may have indulged in. Demand has shifted away from bitter and malt-based beverages, instead towards fruity, more exciting flavors."
  • Spirit brands, including whiskey brands, are encouraged to create an experience that consumers are familiar with. This creates a bond in consumer's mind and drives consumption from an early stage.
  • Moreover, by offering dessert-infused alcohol, the consumer can indulge in "an experience that offers substantial familiarity."
  • The reason why this trend is prominent is the fact that such an experience offers the consumer "additional value and enjoyment; 60% of global consumers find trying new experiences exciting, with limited gender disparity supporting this."


  • The reason why companies, specifically whiskey companies, are offering different unique barrel finishes is because consumers have been seeking different alternatives and more options to purchase within the whiskey market.
  • Moreover, whiskey consumers and potential whiskey consumers are more likely to be willing to experiment in the coming years: "There is enormous demand today for diversity in flavors, and barrel finishing is an effective manner to meet that need."
  • Unique barrel finishes include finishes such as sherry, rum, cognac, Cabernet sauvignon which provide different flavor expressions.
  • The best part about this trend is that the sky is the limit to when it comes to how many flavor expressions can be created.
  • Additionally, producers are expected to mix up mash bills with unique grains more often, which also brings out new and different flavors.
  • At Michter's, the first such innovation included rare oats and wheats, and the company anticipates similar innovations to come out in the coming years: "A lot of people are experiencing with mash bills and other production techniques right now, and there are so many variables that the possibilities are endless."


  • Whiskey brands are expected to be able to find a balance between age statements on their whiskey bottles, and high-end branded blends.
  • The reason for this is the fact that consumer demand is putting an emphasis on high-end blends which are relying on flavors and branding, and increasingly ignoring the stated age of the whiskey.
  • This doesn't mean that the age statements are going away but the consumers are increasingly caring more about "how a whiskey tastes and where it came from than the number that graces the label." Therefore, more artisanal blends are expected to fill the shelves in the coming years.
  • According to a press release by Campari/Wild Turkey, blends are just "a different way to satisfy consumer demand as over time the consumer has become more educated. They will find their way to products that fit with their palate, whether they have age statements or not."
  • On the other hand, age statements remain a critical component of packaging that allows people to navigate the whiskey category: "The removal of age statements became a reality because the bourbon category became so hot that you didn’t necessarily always need them. But they are still critical in some aspects."
  • Brands are expected to still put out 10-year-old whiskeys on the market because names like that help consumers validate that purchase, especially in higher price points brackets.


For this research, we looked into trend reports based on market research conducted by the digital media agency GlobalData which works with spirit brands in order to drive their marketing performance. Additionally, we provided information on trends reported on by Directors, Presidents, and CEOs of leading whiskey brands including Michter, Jay Erisman, New Riff, Old Elk Distillery, and Stranahan. As such, both aspects of trends from the market side led by the market research agencies, and from the supply side provided by the key people in distilleries, have been reported on in this report.
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Spirits - Industry Insights and Trends.

The expected future industry trends in the spirits' category over the next 5-10 years include the whiskey product growth, the growth of the quality whiskey sector and the increase in the number of distilleries. Other trends include the rise in demand of single malt whiskey and the rising of whiskey segment in the global spirit market.


  • According to industry experts, whiskey is one of the brown spirits that were really popular between 2012 and 2017.
  • "The blended malt scotch whiskey is leading the pack as the fastest-growing category, with consumption increasing a whopping 25% in 2015-16."
  • Irish Whiskey is the fastest growing brown whiskey, with a 21.3% growth rate from 2015-2017.
  • According to Jonny Jones, the Director of Client Services for CGA, "rum and Irish whiskey have seen plenty of innovation, as well as solid performance from bigger brands, and are tapping into consumer demand for discovery, new flavor profiles and products with heritage and an interesting brand story to tell"
  • In APAC, local and scotch whiskys are one of the factors that drive the spirit industry in the continent.
  • The American whiskey market share reached $3.4 billion in 2017 from the $252 million market share of 2009.
  • The tremendous growth of the American whiskey is one of the factors that fuel the growth of the dark spirits market.
  • The global whiskey market was estimated at $57.96 billion in 2018 with a CARG of 6.4%.


Whiskey Product Growth

  • Whiskey use base products such as malt, rye, wheat, blended, and corn. 51% of wheat are used to produce wheat-based whiskey. This product is light and sweet.
  • Due to the extensive use of wheat, the sector is expected to grow because of the high product demand, which also applies to other base product as well.
  • The factors that will fuel the growth will include festivals, clubs or non-trade venues.
  • There is an increasing demand for malt whiskey in China, Taiwan and South Korea.
  • There is an increasing demand for single-malt scotch in the APAC, which will promote growth in the market.
  • According to the World Whiskey Forum, base products such as rye will become more popular in the future. The popularity of American Rye Whiskey has driven many distillers to create their own version. As seen by industry experts, rye-based whiskey should continue to grow because distillers are interested to invest in the growth of rye crops.
  • Companies like Miika Lipiäinen & Kalle Valkonen from Finland’s Kyrö distillery has already started working on the Nordic rye and the single malt rye category.

Whiskey Quality Growth

  • The premium whiskey product segment is expected to experience substantial growth due to the increasing demand of conventional drinks.
  • "Moreover, preference for alcoholic beverages with genuine flavors and strong tastes has also augmented the demand for premium drinks."
  • The high-end premium whiskey product segment is expected to experience substantial growth as well due to industry consolidation and the massive entry barrier to new companies. However, high retail price could be a barrier to the growth of the segment.
  • Companies like The Macallan, Glenfiddich, and Johnnie Walker are anticipated to support the trend in the future.
  • There will be a continuous demand for quality alcoholic benerages like high-end whiskey products.
  • There will be a premiumization of whiskey products due to the increasing trend of partying. This premium whiskey products are driven by the shifting consumer preferences.

Increase in Number of Large Distilleries

  • In North America, there is an increase for number of premium whiskey product manufacturers due to an increasing demand for the product.
  • Due to the reduced timeline for federal and state regulatory control approval, this has motivated many distilleries to enter the market.
  • In the forecasted period of 2019-2025, it is expected that there will be an increasing number of large distilleries in the United States.
  • According to Delloite, the production of whiskey products are expected to continuously grow in the nest five years. In Australia, there are already 30 distilleries.

Portfolio Expansion by Using Locally Produced Raw Ingredients

  • Some major whiskey manufacturers will implement key strategies, including portfolio expansions.
  • Whiskey manufacturers will improve the product portfolio by including exclusive products that will be used to advance the company's customer base.
  • Manufacturers will start using more locally-grown grains and spices as this highlights more distinct flavors and tastes.
  • One good example is La Martiniquaise-Bardinet who collaborated with Thistly Cross to create a single-malt whiskey product portfolio for the United Kingdom.


  • The single malt whiskey will be in demand for the next 5 years. It is expected to reach $343 billion revenue by 2025.
  • The whiskey segment will continuously dominate the global spirit market as it is expected to grow at a 5% CAGR until 2020.

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