From flavored whisky to canned cocktails: What is the next generation of whisky drinkers looking for?

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/annabellebreakey
Pic:getty/annabellebreakey

Related tags Whisky whiskey

Taste and quality remain important to whisky drinkers – but what else attracts drinkers to the category?

Using a nationally representative panel from its 65,000-strong community in the UK, product intelligence platform Vypr surveyed whisky drinkers about what they want to see more of in the category.

Premiumization

Despite the pressures of inflation and economic uncertainty, overall, most premium whisky consumers expected their consumption to remain similar in 2023 compared to 2022 (there were, however, some fluctuations with age, with consumers aged 55+ more likely to stay loyal to the category than those aged 18-25).

74% of respondents earning up to £18,000 cited that taste and quality were the most important, with 48% saying price was important.

As income raised up to £25,000, drinkers became increasingly interested in other attributes: 38% of drinkers in this bracket said single malt was important, with age and price important at 34% and 30%, respectively. Interestingly this demographic also placed craft whisky as a key factor at 30%.

As incomes increased, taste and quality remained the top choice for consumers. As incomes rose, so did the preference for the age of a whisky. 

The interest in ‘craft’ grew considerably according to income: 17% of those earning up to £18,000 valued craft, shooting up to 52% for those earning £67,000+.

Interestingly, across all income groups, only 22% of consumers were concerned about the sustainable production of whisky or the country it is produced in. This suggests that consumers are open to non-traditional producers such as Japanese distillers. 

Appetite for change?

Among the youngest generation of whisky drinkers (18-24 year-olds), consumers said they wanted more access to sample sizes to help them develop their taste and understanding of whisky. Around a third of them (34%) also wanted to see more flavored whisky, highlighting honey and caramel flavors.

It was a similar story for the 35–54 age bracket, who also chose flavored products and more sample sizes.

The 55+ bracket seemed to be much happier with their current whisky products, with 33% stating they'd like to see more premium products and 46% stating there's nothing further required. Overall, 63% of drinkers said they would drink the same as in previous years. 

Non-whisky drinkers open to trying whisky-based drinks

But how can whisky producers attract non-whisky drinkers? The thriving canned cocktail category could offer the answer.

Vypr asked non-whisky drinkers if they would be tempted to try whisky over the summer period: finding that 40% of all respondents said they would if it was part of a cocktail. In addition, 32% stated they'd try whisky if it were in a ready-mixed can, with 30% saying they would if there were more flavoured options. This figure rises for the 18-34 age group to 44%. In the 55+ age group, respondents placed access to samples as their top choice at 47%, with access to more flavoured spirits at 45%. Finally, 39% of 35-54 year-olds stated cocktail kits would be a way to try whisky over the summer. 

Regarding the difference between genders, 44% of male drinkers cited they would be open to trying whisky via a cocktail kit (30% via a ready-mixed can). At the same time, 39% of female drinkers would try whisky via a cocktail kit. 

Ben Davies, founder of Vypr, said: "There is a lot of opportunity within this category ranging from premiumisation, increased flavour options and introducing new drinkers to whisky. Product owners could provide sample opportunities with this summer, including cocktail kits for both at-home and on-trade. By experimenting with new flavours, ingredients and servings, category owners could see growth from non-traditional markets."

    

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