Pinnacle Whipped (2010)
The concept of a whipped-cream-flavored vodka might have sounded preposterous 20 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago. But when Pinnacle, a line of wheat vodkas made in France, rolled out its Whipped expression five years ago, consumers readily embraced it.
The proliferation of vodka flavors was already popping—namely fruity expressions. While vanilla, coffee and even espresso had already been explored, no one had really tapped the confectionery flavor profiles. Whipped, with flavors of vanilla and sweet cream, could be enjoyed straight, but consumers and mixologists have found that in cocktails is where it really shines.
The vodka’s success spawned whipped flavor offshoots–Cherry Whipped, Orange Whipped, Chocolate Whipped, Key Lime Whipped, not to mention Cake, Cookie Dough and Marshmallow, among other flavors.
Pinnacle, which was sold by White Rock Distillery to Beam in 2012, now boasts more than 40 flavors. But it was the original Whipped that ushered in the era of confectionery-flavored spirits and made creating dessert cocktails easy.
Angry Orchard (2011)
Though our ancestors cultivated the fermented-apple beverage, modern American consumers had never really warmed to hard cider. It fell somewhere between beer, wine cooler and sweet fizzy wine—most didn’t know what to make of it. But when Boston Beer Co. launched Angry Orchard in 2011, Americans were evidently ready to give it a try.
Now the top-selling cider brand in the U.S., Angry Orchard hit 14.3 million 2.25-gallon cases in 2014—an increase of 81.0% over 2013. The brand, which has only been nationwide since 2012, started with three flagship flavors, Crisp Apple, Traditional Dry, and Apple Ginger. The line now includes the Cider House Collection of specialty ciders, as well as a variety of seasonal ciders, including cinnamon spiced Cinnful Apple.
2 Gingers Irish whiskey (2011)
2 Gingers founder/CEO Kieran Folliard created the Irish whiskey in 2011 for use in the four pub-chain he owned in Minnesota, which at the time was the leading Jameson Irish whiskey account in the country.
So how did 2 Gingers, named for Folliard’s red-headed mother and aunt, get to be the fastest-growing Irish whiskey brand in the U.S.? With the product launch, Folliard aimed to transform Irish whiskey from a winter-only spirit to a seasonless sip, and also to appeal to younger legal-age drinkers and women.
One way was to spread the word in a roadshow in an Airstream trailer piloted by Folliard. Another was to create a simple signature cocktail, the Big Ginger—2 Gingers and ginger ale, with a wedge of lemon and lime—to raise the brand’s profile. 2 Gingers, which was bought by Beam in 2012, has contributed heavily to the current boom in Irish whiskey.