Whether it's bourbon, scotch, whiskey or whisky; from Scotland, Kentucky or Tennessee— brown alcohol is growing in popularity.
Fifty years ago, your grandfather sat alongside a bunch of tweed-clad men and smoked Cubans and drank whiskey out of tumblers. Or, he sat in a leather chair in a smoking jacket, with a pipe, and a Glenlivet. It seemed he was always sitting, and drinking.
Then the pendulum swung over to Generation X who coveted craft beers, mixed drinks and wine. For Gen X, there was no shaking off the tweed and cigar image. You see, young people don’t want to drink what dad drinks.
Enter the “Young Fogies”
Responding to their parent’s affinity for beer and wine, Generation Y—the Millennials, are taking up where their grandparents left off, and enjoying the pleasures of three fingers of whiskey while socializing. It has a romantic ruggedness that appeals to its drinkers.
Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey sales rose 5.2 percent to 16.9 million cases last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Revenue increased 7.3 percent to $2.2 billion. Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world's bourbon supply, according to the Kentucky Distillers' Association. There are 4.9 million bourbon barrels aging in Kentucky, which outnumbers the state's population.
The preferred consumption method of bourbons, whiskey and scotch is straight, served in a glass tumbler. Why straight? Evidently mixing the fusel oils in bourbon with things high in sugar—Coke and things like that, will cause hangovers the next day. I can attest from personal experience, I’ve never had a hangover from drinking straight scotch, bourbon or whiskey.
Perhaps another reason for the upswing in interest in whiskey is about life stage. As 20-somethings have their first taste of disposable income, single, club-and-pub-going men and women want to use that income to show off their maturation and social standing—and might see whiskey as a sophisticated drink.
It may also be tied to the growing attention paid to what we put in our bodies. As alcohol goes, whiskey is one of the more natural, simple drinks. It’s just made from barley and water.
At the same time, with the growing number of small distilleries, whiskey has a sense that it is artisan-made with each barrel having a diverse taste—not unlike the craft brew and wine industries of our parent’s generation.
So, it all comes down to health, social stature, and craft—and a generation that wants to feel they are part of that. It is no wonder that whiskey is going through a renaissance.