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Glass half full for New World whiskies

Katie Nichol

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Glass half full for New World whiskies

Shaking up the segment and attracting new consumers, New World whisky is set for a bright future, according to a white paper from Distill Ventures*.

New World whisky is defined as whisky that is either not produced in Scotland, Ireland, Canada, the US or Japan, or that is made in a style not traditionally associated with its manufacturing country, such as American single malt or Scottish Rye.

These New World whisky producers—markets to watch are India, the UK, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand—are exploring new avenues, from liquid innovation and digital communication to creating “real” connections with consumers. And when it comes to consumers, a new generation is emerging that is younger (18-34) and more affluent.

Retail revolution

New World whisky has developed at such a pace that the retail landscape is said to be struggling to keep up. Retailers and brands need to forge stronger links, e-commerce needs to up its game, and digital communication is more important than ever, according to the report.

Online retail remains an important untapped opportunity for whisky brands, and there is a greater need for sophisticated online shopping platforms. Citing IWSR’s 2018 Drinks Market Analysis, Distill Ventures highlights that two years ago, just 2% of all global spirits sales were done online.

With new consumer behavior emerging due to the coronavirus pandemic that looks set to stay, the importance of trial at home and attracting new shoppers via sampling packs and virtual tastings is gaining ground. Indeed, some 30% of consumers say that they would not buy a whisky that they have not tried before. Subscription services and whisky clubs also spell strong potential.

New World whisky brands also have a role to play in supporting the on-trade through positive consumer experiences and education, says Distill Ventures; some 82% of US whisky drinkers and 62% UK whisky drinkers surveyed said they trust bartender recommendations.

The overall whisky market grew 7% in 2018 compared to the previous year, according to IWSR data, outperforming a number of other spirits. Volume, meanwhile, is predicted to grow to 581 million nine-liter cases by 2023, up from 440 million in 2018.

Not to be outdone, traditional whisky markets are innovating as well, creating new flavors and non-traditional styles by experimenting with raw materials and processes, such as using alternative grains and non-oak casks.

*Distill Ventures is a drinks industry accelerator for new and emerging brands. It is backed by Diageo.

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