Whiskey's domination could last for decades

Fireball whiskyYouTube/Clint NorthwoodThanks to people like this guy.

Whiskey’s popularity is growing at breathtaking speed, and according to Citi, demographics indicate that its domination could last for years and years.

“…the key younger consumer segment (ages 21 to 34) is finally participating in the macro recovery in the U.S,” Citi wrote in a recent note. “Given that the spirits category has shown a relatively solid 4% growth without full participation from younger consumers, we believe this represents a significant opportunity for faster growth ahead in the spirits category, particularly as these younger consumers gravitate towards more premium American whiskey brands.”

And the premium whiskey brands are coming. Over the next few months American and Scotch whiskey makers will be rolling out “blindingly rare” bottles, according to spirits writer Robert Hayes-Peterson. The idea is to marry whiskey to luxury, of course, with traditionally homespun bourbon leading demand as the fastest growing spirit in the category.

The United States is especially dominating this premiumization trend — sales of high end American whiskey grew 19% in 2014. And as Business Insider’s Shane Ferro noted, whiskey makes up 70% of all US liquor exports.

Now, if whiskey going to really take over the world, it’s going to have to steal market share from clear liquor drinkers. Vodka sales lagged in 2014, up only 3%, but whiskey distillers aren’t using that as an excuse to sit on their laurels.

They’re using flavored whiskeys (think: Fireball) to charm sorority girls away from their vodka sodas. They’re making “white whiskey” to pique the interest of bartenders and mixologists.

They’re hoping once you go brown, you can’t put it down.

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