A new year is upon us. With it comes high hopes and expectations to turn the page and start fresh. It also brings a new set of forecasts in the alcohol and spirits industry over the next 12 months. As we all continue to deal with the impact of a global pandemic, new consumer behaviors were revealed such as ramping up at-home cocktail-making skills. For 2022, there are a number of trends set to make waves in the alcohol and spirits sector, from a single malt takeover to continued experimentation with wood in whiskey. And while the roots of some of these trends go back to the beginning of the pandemic, 2022 won’t just be a continuation of the last few years. Here are the exciting alcohol trends that will define this new year.
- Expert home mixologists: When the pandemic forced restaurants and establishments to close for long stretches, the most popular watering hole became the home bar. As a result, amateur bartenders everywhere became quite good at mixing up a range of drinks from tried-and-true classics to exciting exotic cocktails. Prohibition once changed the way Americans drank at home and the long-term effects of the pandemic are changing habits once again. And that’s a good thing! Craft whiskey cocktails like the Negroni, Old Fashioned and Boulevardier will start popping up in everyday establishments. Plus, as home bartenders sharpen their skills and explore more spirit categories, we’ll see once obscure brands and categories (like rye whiskey, for example) become mainstays.
- Single-malt takeover: Single malt whiskey is typically synonymous with two countries: Ireland and Scotland. And for good reason given it’s been produced for hundreds of years. Over the last 20 years, however, single malt is having a moment. Distillers from around the world are experimenting with the spirit to give it a new twist, making this once traditional drink incredibly chic and modern. A large selection of high-quality, global single malts now exists and will continue to grow in 2022.
- Championing Black-owned distilleries: Eighteen months after the Black Lives Matter protests, the alcohol and spirits industry is starting to do something about the inequities in the liquor business. In 2020, the Jack Daniel Distillery and Nearest Green Distillery (one of RackHouse Whiskey Club’s craft distillery of the year award nominees) announced a joint, three-pronged initiative aimed at increasing diversity in the American whiskey industry. The two Tennessee whiskey makers pledged a combined $5 million as part of the Nearest & Jack Advancement Initiative. “The piece I think our industry was missing until now was that we were all trying to figure out how to foster diversity within the American spirits industry separately,” Fawn Weaver, founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest told Whisky Advocate. There’s still a large gap in money flowing to Black-owned liquor brands compared to the industry’s annual $546.15 billion in revenue. This next year will see a continued push for equity, and we’ll all drink better as a result.
- More experimentation with wood in whiskey: Innovation in distillation go hand in hand. And that means turning to used barrels to add an extra dimension to aged spirits. Scotch distillers often use sherry casks and Irish whiskey producers innovate with things like rum casks, Marsala casks and Japanese mizunara oak. 2022 will bring even more experimental attitudes in this area and American whiskey, for one, is ripe for an oak revival. Some Bourbon brands also saw exciting releases with perforated cherry wood chips. Then there’s distilleries like Cleveland Whiskey that forego aging all together by using science, technology and wood chips to age their whiskey. Wood experimentation adds an exciting element to the future of whiskey production for 2022 and beyond.
- Supply chain problems persist: Unfortunately, supply chain issues have become the norm for spirits producers over the last two years. Expect this problem to potentially get worse before it gets better. Manufacturing delays, shipping issues, staffing problems and even a scarcity of shipping containers all combined present a continuation of shortages of rare and well-known spirits in the U.S. Bartenders across the U.S. have a running list of hard or impossible-to-find ingredients, such as: Angostura, Amaretto, Midori, sparkling water and vermouth just to name a few. Some companies are even having trouble obtaining essential supplies like bottles, labels and grain. Certain delays may be short-lived while others have the potential to drag on for months. The upside to supply chain issues is the opportunity for consumers to discover new brands or spirits categories.
If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy craft whiskey and see these trends play out for yourself, check out RackHouse Whiskey Club. RackHouse scours the U.S. looking for the best distilleries with the most interesting stories to curate a unique subscription box filled with full-sized bottles of hard-to-find small batch whiskey. We’re building a community of premium craft whiskey drinkers and you’re invited. Join us!