Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Flavored Whiskey Leads Spirits Growth.

Shanken is reporting today that flavored whiskeys were the fastest-growing spirits type in the U.S. market in the first quarter of 2012—rising 154.8% to 94,000 cases.

The category is defined as flavored whiskeys and whiskey-based liqueurs. They were already doing pretty well. For 2011, its introductory year, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey sold 320,000 cases. In its second year, Jim Beam Red Stag sold 300,000 cases. Veteran Wild Turkey American Honey sold 230,000 cases.

The original two Evan Williams-based liqueurs, Honey Reserve and Cherry Reserve, sold about 100,000 cases combined. The honey and cherry expressions of Seagrams 7 Crown sold about 80,000 cases combined.

If you're reading this, these products are not intended for you, but they may be intended for someone close to you. They're for people who want to belong to a particular brand family but who don't like straight whiskey.

The guys are drinking Jack and Coke, and the girls are drinking Jack Honey and Coke.

We're told these products are good because they introduce new consumers to the whiskey category, though it's more likely that most of these consumers have already rejected whiskey and this is their alternative.

Another rationale is that anything which causes more whiskey to be produced and consumed is good. That's better. It's a testament to how popular whiskey has become that so many people want to launch new, arguably non-whiskey products using a whiskey platform.

Honey is the most popular flavor, with cherry second. Several brands are launching hot cinnamon versions. Can whipped cream be far behind?

It's hard to experiment with whiskey when the aging cycle is involved. Flavored products avoid that problem so they are relatively low risk. It remains to be seen if flavored whiskey will have any real staying power.


Josh Feldman said...

I'm the only bourbon snob I know who is completely "out" about loving Red Stag. I love fine bourbon, but I'm man enough to say that I think Red Stag is really tasty. I've tried a number of the honeys and didn't much like any of them, however....

Bottom line, I'm not surprised they're selling like hotcakes.

AaronWF said...

Fast food, 2 liter bottles of soda, and breakfast cereals with sugar as the dominant ingredient: Americans by and large love to pour anything sweet down their gullet. Taken as individuals, I don't have a problem with someone indulging an occasional sweet tooth or a bacon 1/4 lber with cheese and fries, but taken as a society, I see it as a weakness that companies exploit for profit.

It bothers me that as obesity and diabetes rates continue to rise in the U.S., we have companies continually making efforts to provide products that so blatantly contribute to the problem. We all know that whiskey made traditionally has the potential to cause health problems, but injecting sugar into it makes me cringe; not so much from the vantage of taste (though it's not my thing at all), but I don't see it as having any kind of positive effect on Americans' attitude towards bourbon. On the contrary, I see it as having the potential to egregiously misrepresent what American whiskey is or can be, both to Americans and the rest of the world. Not just in taste, but in its effects on health.

BMc said...

So nobody had better offer you an old-fashioned

Jason Thomas Cammarata said...

Aaron, I'm pretty sure the Red Stag products have no sugar added.

Chuck Cowdery said...

Jason, Please share why you think that as I'm pretty sure they do contain added sugar. Don't think cherries alone could make it that sweet.

Anonymous said...

I make my own cherry infused KSBW. I use Evan Williams Black (NAS) and put it into an empty Elijah Craig bottle (because the bung hole is big enough to put the cherries in.)

Once or twice a year, when Bing cherries ripen and come to market, I buy a bag and put about 20 - 30 cherries in the EC bottle than top it off with the EW.

Every few days I give it a good shake for about two weeks. After that, the cherry juice does impart a red hue to the whiskey.

This tastes great on occasion. It does sweeten up the EW a little bit...but nowhere near the cloying sweetness of Red Stag.

I'd bet my last dollar Red Stag has some sort of sweetener added to it.

Jason Thomas Cammarata said...

"I suspect Red Stag does not even qualify to be a liqueur. Even though it tastes very sweet, the sweetness is coming from the bourbon itself and the fruit essences, not from added sugar."
cowdery - 06-17-2009, 13:14

Chuck Cowdery said...

Good catch. Simple explanation. I was wrong. To qualify as a liqueur, the sugar content has to be "not less
than 2 1/2 percent by weight of the finished product." Added sugar doesn't automatically make something a liqueur. Beam also gets a wide berth because they used the "bourbon with..." naming convention. I now believe Red Stag contains added sugar.