Driven by millennials, sales of American whiskey rose 7.7 percent in 2016, outpacing the growth of the entire spirits industry, according to a recent NY Post article. With interest in whiskey at an all-time high, it’s no wonder developers come to me seeking input on how to instill hints of whiskey into applications across all sorts of product lines, including non-alcoholic products.
Although whiskey is a commonly recognized spirit, understanding its defining characteristics requires more than a surface-level consideration. First things first: whiskey has no single flavor. While we can use general terms to describe the category–light, smoky, rich, deep–the myriad of complicated notes beneath the surface create a unique signature, like a fingerprint. Take a sip. Up front you’ll find the obvious notes that come with a barrel-aged spirit– things like smoke, peat, and charred oak. In the next layer you’ll find flavors that may be easily identifiable, like vanilla, caramel, or heather honey.
Underneath it all are the flavors that may surprise, and ultimately separate producers from their competitors. Would you ever think to describe your whiskey as tasting like beeswax, or macadamia nuts, or raisins? Those flavors are so intensely subtle, but layered in such a manner that it would be nearly impossible to identify them all. But that’s what makes whiskey so desirable to the modern aficionado—the regional identifiers, the subtle nuances, and the striking complexity. This deliberate layering process will lead to a consistency of product, but more importantly, it helps to create an incomparable flavor experience.
As noted above, whiskey’s popularity extends beyond the bar, making waves across kitchens everywhere: bourbon-spiked barbecue sauces at the supermarket, Tennessee whiskey-glazed proteins on menus, Scotch-spiked caramel at your local bakery. It’s a perfect complement to both sweet and savory applications. Who’s ready to experiment?
For more information on how we can work together and developing your next whiskey-infused flavor or beverage innovation, contact your McCormick account representative or contact us here today.