Whisky snobs, look away now - your favourite tipple is going trendy

Distillers are tempting younger drinkers away from their beer and alcopops. Jane Bainbridge reports

Like the spirit itself, whisky drinkers take time to mature. While that may be good for the flavour, it is not good for long-term sales of the product. With older men making up their core drinkers, whisky producers are having to address the problem of a declining market.

Like the spirit itself, whisky drinkers take time to mature. While that may be good for the flavour, it is not good for long-term sales of the product. With older men making up their core drinkers, whisky producers are having to address the problem of a declining market.

Derek Brown, the director of brand heritage at Famous Grouse, says: "Like any business, you're continually reviewing the consumer base. People get older, so you have to recruit new people or you will decline."

But persuading younger - and female - drinkers that whisky is their tipple is not always easy. One of the biggest barriers to take-up by younger drinkers is that in the UK whisky is traditionally drunk straight, while in Southern Europe, up to 90 per cent of whisky is mixed.

The main exception in the UK is the American bourbon, Jack Daniel's. Its popularity among younger drinkers, and hence impressive growth (10 per cent increase a year, according to Mintel) is largely down to the fact that 85 per cent of it is consumed as a Tennessee Twister (mixed with cola).

How whisky is served is becoming a key area in the battle to win a new generation of drinkers. At Salt, a whisky bar and restaurant in London, half of the signature cocktails use whisky, and the more familiar Rob Roy, Whisky Mac and Whisky Sour are also available. Lincoln Hall, the managing director of Salt, says the bar attracts more women than men, with female drinkers tending to go for the cocktails in preference to straight whisky.

Appealing to women is an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, the overt masculinity of the advertising and culture of whisky can alienate female drinkers, but creating brands specifically for women is not generally seen as the answer. Paul Godfrey is the group marketing manager, malt whisky portfolio global at William Grant & Sons. He says: "Ironically, women like whisky because it's masculine. Some of the brands failing have tried to appeal to women with a different product. For a lot of women the product is acceptable and the masculinity is an area of appeal; it is part of the approbation of male rituals. A year ago we were working toward a feminine whisky, but after research we decided it was a terrible idea. Women don't want girls' versions of the drink."

The Macallan, however, created a new product to appeal to a younger and possibly more feminine palate. In September last year it introduced its Macallan Fine Oak malt - a slightly lighter, more delicate spirit - to appeal to younger, urban drinkers.

Ken Grier, the director, says: "We've done a lot of work in the US, which is a big market for Macallan, and there the urban, chic metrosexuals are just getting into single malts. We've been running very targeted advertising, particularly in the colour supplements. The young urbanites crave the status of the single malt. There are a considerable number of women who are very attuned to the world of luxury."

Whisky is well placed to tap into the trend of personal indulgence and "new luxury". Despite the headlines about binge drinking, there is a move toward drinking less, but higher quality, among some groups. And when whisky distillers talk of targeting younger drinkers, this still generally means people in their thirties rather than late teens or early twenties.

William Grant's Glenfiddich has targeted younger consumers through music. Its Independent Mix programme was a series of music nights at London venues, with the Radio 1 DJ Gilles Peterson playing at the main event. And it has promoted its Essential Serves - Glenfiddich with a twist and ice to make it a longer, more refreshing drink.

Famous Grouse has been working with the bar trade to share information on ways of drinking the whisky. "We're feeding the trade, we think it works and we're giving permission to consume it in different ways," Brown says.

Where does all this leave the traditional whisky drinker, who may not like to see their malt messed about with? "There's a huge amount of bigotry around whisky," Godfrey says. "We are about the democratisation of whisky so that people are free to enjoy it in any way they choose. It's not about breaking the rules, but reinterpreting them,"

And not everyone thinks that ditching the "dad's drink" image will necessarily upset older consumers of whisky. "The older market is very proud to see the products they know and love being used by a younger, trendier audience. There's pride because they got there first," Grier says.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home