The beverage industry is an industry of trends and catching on to the latest whiskey trend is critical for pleasing customers and increasing beverage sales. Whiskey has been hot for the last couple years, including bourbons, flavored whiskeys and now Irish whiskeys. First there was the Fireball craze, with a younger generation replacing Vodka and other spirits with Fireball as their go-to shot. In just two years, Fireball whiskey increased sales by over 30x, to $60 million in 2013. Other producers released new brands and products in a wide range of flavors from cherry to honey. Bushmills became the first Irish distillery to jump onboard followed by Dewar’s in Scotland, not to mention the dozens of American products. If your restaurant or bar hasn’t started carrying Fireball and other flavored whiskeys, you’re losing money. Don’t miss the next big beverage trend, craft Irish Whiskeys.
From Flavored Whiskey to Small Batch Bourbon
After flavored whiskeys, small batch bourbon became a big craze. Buffalo Trace Distillery saw an almost cult-like following to Pappy Van Winkle and sparked additional small batch products from other distilleries. Last year a good friend of mine visited a liquor store in Chicago to buy a bottle, only to find the owner jacked up the price to 4x suggested retail.
The Rise of Irish Whiskey Distillers
Now we’re seeing new, smaller distilleries about to come out of Ireland and you better be ready to get onboard. Dublin hasn’t seen a new distillery built in 125 years, but iconic brothers Stephen and Jack Teeling are building a new facility that will produce 100,000 cases per year. Only three major distilleries: Jameson, Cooley and Bushmills, currently produce almost all Irish whiskey. But with a 20% rise in Irish whiskey sales in the U.S. last year, more are about to come. The number of Irish distilleries could triple by the end of next year from investment from large players like Pernod Ricard as well as small brands like Tullamore DEW, West Cork Distillers, and others.
What This Means to Your Restaurant or Bar
If you haven’t noticed already, your customers are drinking more whiskey and it’s not slowing down. Getting some of the new Irish whiskies may be difficult for a while, with a lack of importation and distribution in the U.S. But talk with your distributors to find out what you can get and talk with customers to find out what they’re looking for.
One of the great parts of Uncorkd digital menus, is that they track what your guests are looking at and interested in on the menu. Across our platform interest in all types of whiskies continues to grow. Scotch and bourbon are more popular than vodka and Irish whiskey accounts for over 3% of all spirits looked at on a menu, up from less than 2% six months ago.
Along with adding new products, be sure to train your staff. See this great primer on scotch and be sure your wait staff and bartenders have tasted and can talk intelligently about different products. Whiskey drinkers love to talk about whiskey and having an educated staff can keep your customers coming back in.
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