From age-old tradition to new-age friends, whisky’s evolving demographics reveal why it’s time to go for gold.
Whisky, the world’s top tipple and India’s favourite spirit is witnessing some interesting new trends in India, led by changing demographics. As the spirit evolves bridging nostalgia and nuance informing provenance and passion, a younger audience thirsty for change and imbued with a generational affinity for instant gratification is gravitating toward this amber gold spirit.
Mate for Millenials
The world of whisky is raising a toast to millennials. Not only are they appreciating good whiskies, but even drinking better. Whilst young people across the world are said to be drinking relatively less alcohol, they are definitely drinking better. In fact, a significant shift in their behaviour is leaning on taste and the overall experience, rather than the traditional aspects of age and provenance. In fact Globally, whisky, especially blended whisky is outstripping the other categories. This has a keen reflection in new age attitudes as it is normally believed that the younger lot discard the preferences of the older generations, though in the case of whisky it is proving otherwise. Whisky, has been enjoying a renewed popularity over others with the high-spending 25-35 years olds, who were initially veering towards Malts.
Instant gratification with an expectation of innovation is what is driving millennial interest towards the smooth and simple character of blends. Brand statements, quality of engagement and even the labels on the bottle seem to drive and focus interest. Whisky should make a statement about where it comes from and what it will taste like.
While credibility and heritage are initial draws, balancing this need with a desire for innovation and authenticity garners brand loyalty. Authenticity is one attribute that Scotch whiskies in general and the signature Chivas 12 YO can lay claim to, along with confident standards of quality. Surveys indicate that millennials also enjoy a taste for bold, heavy, rich and bitter drinks, with great packaging.
In fact one of the more popular whiskies I found was Chivas. It seemed to tickle a lot of palates, excite new consumers especially with its smart communication that makes whisky more exciting and desirable. The Chivas 18 YO–at the top of the spectrum—with 85 flavours including chocolate and honey and layers of goodness coming through is a no brainer!
In India, as whisky gets younger, shedding age, and shrugging off the image of an old fashioned drink, brands are helping usher in the new generation of fans by creating immersive opportunities to experience and taste a wide range of whiskies. According to Nikhil Chopra, 31, who works as a Lead for an HR firm: “Whisky is cool, its legacy and complexity, with an easy drinking nature and the wide choices available makes it a preferred pour for my friends”.
In fact, a global report also states that over 70 per cent of millennials are more interetsed in buying into an experience than a physical brand. In fact, another area which has seen an upsurge, is home bar experiences where young millennials preferring to invite friends and “known strangers” for at-home experiences that can be curated to suit varrying palates and preferences. That’s why easy going whiskies like the Chivas EXXTRA & Ballantine 17 YO are making strides.
WHISKY’s GENDER FLUIDITY
But it isn’t just the young and the restless that are reaching out for liquid gold, women comprise a completing base with millennials when it comes to appreciating whisky. In fact research suggests that 35 per cent more women are appreciating whiskies over the last two years. From bold flavours to young brands, choices are varied and so are the preferences.
“I have been enjoying whiskies since I started drinking a few years back. Frankly, it never occurred to me whether whisky was for men or women, I just love the taste and the story behind each label,” says Suragita Singh, 37, who works for a leading luxury advisory service in India. She prefers rich and robust whiskies and enjoys them on ice. Interestingly, a lot of women in their late 20s and early 30s meet regularly to bond over whisky and small eats. The evenings are given over to gal pal moments where Chivas 12 YO seems to be the preferred pick of the evening for these new-age customers. Interestingly, a young fashionista recently pointed out another reason for whisky’s growing fan base among younger women: “I enjoy whisky more because it has seemingly less calories and to top it off, a great taste. That makes it a win-win, she says.”
Combining provenance and legacy with a well-defined palate is what attracts Mandeep Tewani, a teacher in Delhi Public School, to her single malts: “Straight up, twice a week for sure. I love to drink on weekends but once in a while, I break the monotony and have a cheat drink on a weak day too,” she says. For Gurgaon-based Priya Sahni, who heads marketing for a beverage and marketing consulting firm: ‘My go-to comfort pour is whisky, blended or single malt; it’s the story, taste and aroma of the whisky, which makes me experiment with different whiskies. Not a great fan of cocktails, she feels whisky cocktails kill the intense flavour of the pure spirit. Her friend Parul Kaushal, an image Consultant, on the other hand roots for cocktails. “I like variety in my drinks and through cocktails I can try new drink concoctions with different spirits depending on the occasion and mood. Whisky, gin and vodka are her preferred poisons with a hint of fizz and sweetness.
In the growing popularity of whisky an interesting reason pointed out to me by a fashionista, was that she enjoyed whisky more because it had seemingly less calories and a great taste.
Another observation of merit is that while Malts were enjoying a robust popularity curve up until 8-10 years ago, blends seem to be striking a more popular chord now, not just with the new generation of whisky drinkers, but even older women. “I shifted to whisky almost 10 years back after a compelling whisky appreciation event. Post that, Royal Salute 21 YO and Chivas 18, are my best pals when I am out. Whisky makes a definitive statement with women and we prefer the complex and balanced style of the spirit over the new generation of younger spirits”, elaborates Kamal Vijayan who manages operations at a global digital media network. Last year when she turned 50, a prized gift was the Royal Salute 21 YO.
Women are quite discerning about whiskies and have a better sense of nosing and tasting than men. Across the many whisky tastings that I have hosted, it was interesting to find that the feedback from women, on a certain whisky was simple, precise and mostly in line with the official tasting notes.
With newer entrants and evolving demograhics, whisky’s popularity is already booming. Whether it’s finding favour with millennials or a generation of women savants, let’s raise a toast as we choose our next drink, and on that note make mine a Chivas 18 as I raise the 85 notes in the whisky.
A REGAL SPIRIT
Chivas 12 YO: Smooth, rich and generous, Chivas 12 is a classic for a reason. Crafted from the finest malt and grain Scotch whiskies, this 12-year-old blend is a signature blend from the brand.
Chivas Extra is born from painstaking craft. Carefully selected first-fill Oloroso sherry casks magnify the richness and intensity of flavour, imbuing it with a deep amber colour. This extra special whisky is best served with a little extra company.
Chivas 18 Complex, rich and luxurious, this 18 year old holds an incredible 85 unique flavour notes in every drop. Uniquely rich and complex, this beloved 18-year-old blended Scotch whisky has won both awards and hearts of whisky-lovers across the world.