If you haven't had a drink of whiskey since college, it might be time to give the dark spirit another try. The Jack and Cokes, whiskey sours and old fashioneds that were popular when we grew up have given way to flavored and craft-made whiskeys that can stand on their own.
One advantage of finer whiskey is that you don't need to mask its flavor. Slowly sipping lets you drink less. But enthusiasm for new takes on the old classic is growing: the $4 billion whiskey business gained $500 million in less than two years.
New Releases Causing a Stir
Not only are flavored whiskeys and whiskey-based liqueurs barrelling into the world of American spirits, they're also eroding market share from imported flavored vodkas, a former industry darling. Beyond domestic blockbusters like Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey, industry analysts say new high-end Canadian Whisky releases, smaller Irish whiskey brands, and a dizzying array of new Scotch whisky offerings are causing quite a stir with a new audience. (Yes, whiskey is sometimes spelled with or without an "e.")
"People are drinking less wine and more whiskey," says Steven Earles, CEO of Portland-based Eastside Distilling, "and women have become more inclined to give whiskey a try."
Women now make up 37 percent of whiskey customers in the U.S., a seven percentage point increase in just three years. Some of today's best-known whiskey brands are owned, managed or founded by women.
"The future of whiskey is in the hands of women, from both the leadership ranks as well as the consumer ranks," said Fred Minnick, author of Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey, in a recent CBS News interview.
But no matter who's holding the tumbler, industry insiders say it's an exciting time in whiskey's evolution. Look for lines at distilleries as fans camp out to try new craft whiskeys, writes Geoff Kleinman, spirits columnist and founder of DrinkSpirits.com, and keep your eyes out for new honeypot whiskeys, single barrel whiskeys, and an uptick in the enjoyment of really old whiskeys.
If You're Curious
Try these three Eastside Distilling recipes, from a whiskey drink served in a cocktail glass to a punch that'll make a splash at any party to a perfect cocktail for an evening on the porch.
Eastside Civil War
1 1/2 oz. Burnside Bourbon
1/2 oz. Cocchi Torino Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz. Cynar
2 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters
Preparation: Add all the ingredients, except the cherry, to a 16 oz. mixing glass (pint glass). Fill to within 1 inch of the top with ice. Stir until chilled and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an Amarena cherry.
25 oz. Cherry Bomb Whiskey (one 750ml bottle)
12.5 oz. Burnside Bourbon
75 oz. Smith Teamaker Earl Grey Tea (chilled)
25 oz. orange juice
25 oz. simple syrup
12.5 oz. Sweet vermouth
5 tablespoons Peychaud's Bitters
Preparation: Mix all the ingredients in a large punch bowl, then add ice or ice ring. Serve in small punch glasses. The mixture serves 10-12 people.
1.5 oz. Marionberry Whiskey
.5 oz. Dry Curacao
2 oz. Fresh grapefruit juice
Served on the rocks
Preparation: Fill glass with ice, add Burnside Bourbon and recipe ingredients.
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