Non-Scotch Whisky Essentials 2016

Non-Scotch Whisky Essentials 2016

just-drinks, in association with The IWSR, presents this six-part review of the non-Scotch whisky category. In part five, we look at the consumer and category trends that have come into play for the sector.

American whiskey is reaping the benefits of a generational shift, where more and more consumers demand flavour in their drinks in a partial reaction against the "blank canvas" neutrality of vodka.

As interest grows, the market in the US in particular is broadening, with more super-premium-and-above products coming on stream. Meanwhile, the craft trend is helping to drive interest in products of authenticity and provenance - strong suits for US whiskey.

Irish whiskey's accessibility in terms of taste, thanks to its typically triple-distilled production method, has helped it win favour among category newcomers and younger consumers. It has also benefited from the emotional pull of Irish cultural cues used in marketing.

The category is becoming increasingly diverse as new distilleries start up and established players explore different whiskey styles. The only short-term brake on current growth levels is lack of supply, thanks to unpredicted levels of demand.

Consumer Key Views


A multiplicity of positive factors are driving the current growth of US and Irish whiskey, from a shift in cocktail consumption to increasing levels of curiosity and connoisseurship, as well as the emotional pull of American and Irish culture.


Both US and Irish whiskey are characterised by their accessibility in terms of taste. Add in the flavoured segment (for US whiskey in particular) and you have a powerful recruitment tool to lure in drinkers from rival categories.


Supply challenges will, to some extent, prove a frustration to both US and Irish distillers in the short term as they look to satisfy demand and expand their market footprint. However, this situation should ease within a few years.


For Irish whiskey in particular, a key challenge will be to diversify its offer to consumers while retaining its essential DNA and character. Remember that, for many consumers around the world, the category is defined by one brand: Jameson.

To continue to part VI of the report, click here.

For the just-drinks Non-Scotch Whisky Essentials content page, click here

All data has been sourced from just-drink's joint report with The IWSR, Global Non-Scotch Whisky Insights.