Distilled Spirit Trends in 2019: Growth, White Whales and Expensive Distillates
Posted December 12, 2018
If I had the money to invest in a brewery, distillery or winery, I would throw all-in on the distillery. The craft spirits market is still in its infancy and all demographics point positively toward spirits being the preferred alcoholic beverage for the generations that matter most. I took a look at three trends you can expect to see in the spirits industry in 2019.
Can growth really be a trend? This is my blog post, so I say yes. But really, the spirits industry is positioned perfectly for a big year in 2019 and beyond. Millennials are all 21 now, and they prefer spirits to wine and beer. Generation Z agrees, and as they enter the legal drinking age, you can expect to see the spirits customer base broadening.
Even better, these consumers don’t mind paying top-dollar for quality spirits with a unique story. The premium and super-premium segments are showing impressive growth and as long as a well-crafted cocktail makes for a good Instagram photo, I don’t see it slowing down.
Finally, the number of craft distilleries is growing, providing more unique, local and adventurous spirits for consumers to explore.
Spirits Distilled from Honey
Yes, I know I’ve got a horse in this race, but I truly believe 2019 will be the year consumers understand and embrace spirits distilled 100% from honey. At this year’s Honey Spirits Competition, we had 30 entries in this category, each with a dynamic flavor and aroma. There even are efforts underway by distillers to define the category to educated consumers, bar managers and retail buyers. Here are two great spirits I had this year distilled 100% from honey.
Oak Rested Honey Spirit – Domeloz
This Madison, Wisconsin-based distillers Original Honey Spirit is exceptional on its own, but the oaked version added additional nuance that made it my go-to spirit when I wanted a variation to my Manhattan.
Barr Hill Vodka – Caledonia Spirits
A vodka is supposed to be neutral, right? This amazing spirit manages to stay in style while delivering the aromas of a wildflower field on a summer’s day. It’s the absolutely perfect spirit for vodka sodas with a lime twist.
The craft distilling industry appears to be following a similar path as the craft beer industry did many years ago. The big brands that dominated for so long are starting to lose shelf-space to craft spirit makers offering more local, adventurous and unique spirits. In 2019, I think we’ll see the craft spirits industry borrow another page from craft brewers: rarities and white whales. Distillers have always produced limited run batches and marketed them at higher costs, but I think this will be pushed even further in the coming years as craft distillers and consumers create demand for rare bottle releases and unique, one-of a kind offerings.