Here are four consumer spirits trends to watch in 2018

Whisky 2.0

Whiskey continues to go from strength to strength, but whisky, less so, according to Malanradkis.

“As bourbon and Irish varietals will continue spearheading growth through savvy positioning, approachability credentials, versatility and bold experimentation,” said Malandrakis, “it will be within Scotch where the battle lines are drawn and the fine balance between tradition and innovation will have to be struck. ”

Cross-pollination has been identified as a key trend for many aspects of the alcohol industry as we move into 2018. Whiskey-maker Jameson recently launched an IPA cask-aged expression, while Scotch producers are diversifying themselves to stay relevant to an increasingly informed and curious consumer base.

“Allowing room for interpretation of centuries old regulations, utilising untapped cask types, providing transparency on proportional age statements , taking a shot on once sacrilegious canned and pouch formats and bringing singular grains to the forefront, whisky 2.0 could well be just around the corner. The alternative is less than palatable.”

There has been much debate within the spirits sector about the direction Scotch regulation could take in the coming years. While The Scotch Whisky Association launched a new plan to receive Geographic Indication status in New Zealand last August, this year drinks giant Diageo confirmed the existence of documents outlining plans for drastic changes to the rules of Scotch whisky production. These included the ageing of Scotch in old Tequila barrels, new blended whiskies designed to have a low-ABV, and adding chocolate to the mash during fermentation — all major departures from traditional production rules.

Maladrakis argued: “As the Irish distillery boom reaches escape velocity, a ladder of products will become available, the establishment of a wholesale market will come closer while the debate on official guidelines and labelling rules will mature in parallel to the category coming of age.”

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