The American Whiskey Revolution

Authenticity, Heritage and Tradition Are Keys to Success.

Gone are the days of the stereotypical whiskey drinker. The younger generation, including women, is now imbibing this fashionable spirit. Whiskey suppliers are not only expanding their core consumer base, but the gentler flavored offerings are also bringing new consumers into the category.

Years ago, vodka won over consumers by introducing flavored products. The whiskey category is now following suit. Flavored whiskey options are fascinating to the younger generation of drinkers — Sazerac’s Fireball being a prime example.

What started out as popular on television period dramas, such as Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men has entered the mainstream and is more popular than ever. Whiskey continues to be revived through creative libations in hip lounges today. The renaissance occurring in the American whiskey category shows no signs of slowing down as consumers have only become more interested in this category rich with heritage and tradition.

Millennials are looking to be part of something deeply rooted in this country’s culture and American whiskey fits the bill. This desire has caused a shift in strategy for whiskey brands. They are now going back to their roots and touting their origins to attract these consumers. Suppliers are taking it a step further by releasing a plethora of incredibly high-quality products, which is keeping consumers enthralled with the category.

According to the Beverage Information and Insights Group’s Liquor Handbook 2015, straight whiskey, which has been trending upward over the past few years, increased by 6.4% to 18.8 million 9-liter cases in 2014. The category, which consists of bourbons and Tennessee whiskeys, added 1.1 million cases to the industry last year and now holds an 8.9% share of the distilled spirits industry.

Jack Daniel’s remains the category leader with a 26.1% share of the category, and turned around its 0.3% decrease from two years ago. Jim Beam achieved a share of 22.3%, with an increase of 5.4% to 4.2 million 9-liter cases. And the third leading brand, Evan Williams, reached its second consecutive year of double-digit increases last year by increasing 13% to 1.9 million 9-liter cases and a 9.9% share of category. Maker’s Mark and Bulleit Bourbon round out the top five. American whiskey is expected to continue to increase next year with straights increasing 6% and blends also adding to their sales in comparison to last year.


Find more information about the whiskey category in the newly released Liquor Handbook 2015, available at or by contacting Cynthia Porter at (630)762-8709. The Liquor Handbook 2015 is $945 for the hard copy or PDF, $1,545 for the hard copy or PDF with data CD.

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