Whiskey Set to Vanquish Vodka in US Sales

Consumer preferences leaning more toward 'authentic' liquor with heritage
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2014 1:22 PM CDT
Whiskey Set to Vanquish Vodka in US Sales
This June 2, 2014, photo shows, from left, Crown Royal Monarch 75 Anniversary blend, Collingwood, Black Velvet Reserve, and Crown Royal XO in Concord, NH.   (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Vodka has reigned victorious in sales over all other spirits in the US since 2007, but it's about to be wasted by a formidable opponent: whiskey. Even though vodka still has a hold on volume, whiskey is projected to wrest the sales title away this year, according to Euromonitor data cited by Quartz. This is mainly because consumers are looking for libations with "authenticity, heritage, and taste," according to a Credit Suisse analyst note, which calls the move away from vodka a "generational rejection." Imbibers are willing to pay top dollar, too, especially when it comes to bourbon: More-expensive premium bottles are in demand because they seem more interesting in flavor and history than vodka, and because aged, small-batch bourbons that have limited supply are seen as "[adding] to the allure," notes Quartz.

Vodka once ran the hooch roost, capitalizing on its status in the '80s as being "inoffensive and inexpensive," in Quartz's words. It even ventured into flavored offerings, with unusual varieties such as smoked salmon, buttered popcorn, and peanut butter and jelly, notes Faded Industry. But vodka volume is experiencing slower growth than it has in a decade, notes Quartz, with flavored vodkas apparently cutting into regular vodka sales instead of extending the overall channel. This hasn't deterred whiskey makers from concocting their own flavored creations: Fifty new flavored whiskeys hit shelves in the first half of 2013. And Nielsen data showed flavored whiskey made up 75% of growth in the entire whiskey category for 2012, according to the New York Times. (Last year, $750,000 worth of whiskey was poured down the drain.)

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