“You have to try this drink,” said a friend from college who was visiting recently. She handed me a cocktail, which turned out to be a honey-flavored American Bourbon on the rocks. My friend had thrown a maraschino cherry in the glass, because she’s festive like that, but that’s all there was to the drink.
The thing is, I’ve known this friend for decades, and I never remember her drinking Bourbon, scotch or any type of brown spirit. That a honey Bourbon is now her favorite drink speaks to the effect that flavored whiskeys are having on the category. Bars and restaurants say that the flavored varieties—honey, cherry, maple, and cinnamon, to name just a few—are attracting new converts, including women and Millennials.
Then again, flavoring whiskey is seen as gilding the lily to purists. As our feature article “Whiskey Business” points out, some operators admit that they personally aren’t fans of the flavors.
The same goes for moonshine, or white whiskey—some strictly believe whiskey needs a little age and color on it. But clear, unaged whiskeys, which fit in with the current craft spirits movement, are showing up at bars and liquor stores nationwide. As with the flavored whiskeys, even skeptics have to acknowledge the popularity of these spirits among consumers and the need to stock them.
Another factor driving the popularity of whiskey—among other spirits—is the trend of beer cocktails, many of which use whiskey as a key ingredient. The way that beer cocktails have taken off in the past year is phenomenal. Mixologists say that beer makes for a flavorful, carbonated mixer, while customers tend to be intrigued by the concept of combing beer and spirits.
Speaking of beer cocktails, we have some great drink recipes that incorporate beer or wine as a mixer. Need to know what beer brands are popular? Check out our exclusive ranking and summary of the fastest-growing beer brands.
On the wine front, we look at California’s Sierra Foothills wine region, favorite South American wine values and Chilean wine trends. Plus, our national wine panel offers their picks for cabernet sauvignon. And if you’re shopping for a point-of-sale system, you’ll want to review our POS roundup.
There’s plenty in this issue to get you prepared for a great fall. By the way, don’t forget that September is National Bourbon Heritage Month. Whether you prefer flavored or plain, craft or big brand, there are plenty of delicious Bourbon options out there.