Whisky Drinkers Explore Other Aged Spirits

There has been a growing trend of other spirits such as rum and tequila, expanding into the aged spirits category, and many Scotch lovers have been meeting them there. These spirits are disrupting the norm of whisky as the dominant drink in terms of sippability, by focusing on the inherent quality of their liquid. For example, customers have increasingly reached for aged rums from the likes of Foursquare, El Dorado and Kill Devil. Plantation took things one step further, by finishing their 10-year-old Barbadian rum in an Arran Whisky Cask.

Even in the bourbon world, where the hot Kentucky weather dissuades distillers from maturing for any longer than five years, Maker's Mark released their first ever long-aged bourbon in 2023: Maker's Mark Cellar Aged. The whiskey, matured within a custom-made temperature controlled cellar, was met with much buzz and acclaim upon release.

Sustainability Going Strong

Luckily for the planet, sustainable whisky production seems to have triumphed as more than a trend. Customers continue to look for responsible use of energy and resources, especially in a market which benefits so much from nature - whisky is just barley, water, yeast, and perhaps some peat, after all.

2023 saw Nc'Nean distillery go from strength to strength, making their liquid in a totally net-zero distillery, and Tomatin be crowned 'Sustainable Distillery of the Year' for fuelling 80% of their production process using biomass energy - generated from their own draff (a resultant from the mashing process). As well as this, the recently completed Dunphail distillery in Speyside, was constructed to generate electricity entirely through the extensive use of solar power.

Reusing the heat generated in the whisky-making process will be a big way for Scotch distilleries to work towards the Scotch Whisky Association's 2040 net-zero target. Expect many of the big-hitters to cut down on their energy costs by installing heat recovery apparatus in 2024 and the years that follow.

Global Whisky Explosion

With Suntory whisky celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2023, the Japanese whisky industry is as well established as those with longer roots in Scotland, Ireland and the USA. However, in the past few years we have seen the world of whisky expand and expand.

Wales was recently granted protected GI status, and powerhouse distilleries in England such as The Lakes Distillery and White Peak Distillery have produced many intriguing expressions in recent years. In the Nordic region, Stauning and Kyro continue to produce fantastic liquid, and the Return to Oz collection from That Boutique-y Whisky Company introduced us to the many new distilleries in Australia.

In 2023, we brought in whisky from exciting new distilleries based in New Zealand, India, Australia, France, Israel, Taiwan and Canada. We expect the interest in world whiskies to only grow, as in 2024 single malt is due to be released for the very first time from distilleries in South Korea, Italy, Netherlands and Singapore.

Minimalist Cocktails

Alongside fat-washed drinks and savoury cocktails, we will be coming across more minimalist cocktails at the bar, according to Diageo Bar Academy. What makes a minimalist cocktail you ask? Is Scotch and water a minimalist cocktail? Well, this trend focuses on the merit of each quality seasonal ingredient rather than the quantity, resulting in drinks with only 2-3 components. Influenced by sustainability, these cocktails allows the drinker to fully appreciate the quality and flavour of each ingredient.

If you think about it, all classic cocktails are minimalist. Therefore, we are going back to basics after the maximalism of the candy-floss margarita and salted caramel espresso martini.

Trendy Celebrity Spirits

Following the success of George Clooney's Casamigos Tequila, and Ryan Reynolds' Aviation Gin, a growing number of celebrities are using their fame to elevate premium spirits brands even further - with demand higher than ever. As reported by The Spirits Business, consumers pay 73% more for celebrity spirits, and so the lucrative market is massively on the up.

2023 brought us Fraser & Thompson, a whiskey released by Michael Buble, Papa Salt Gin, released by Margot Robbie, Wolfie's Whisky from Rod Stewart and Renais Gin from Emma Watson and her brother Alex Watson. We expect plenty of bottles to be sold in 2024, as well as other celebrities taking their hands to distilling. It has many pondering: Is the celebrity spirit the new celebrity perfume?