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How Scottish producers are cashing in on discerning palates of younger consumers?

® VisitScotland - Strathearn Gin being made at the Strathearn Distillery in Perthshire

Scotch Whisky is, and, will remain for years, one of our most important drinks in Scotland which is enjoyed well beyond our shores and opening new markets constantly. 

Whisky is famed for its story, its tradition and its long history of distilling in Scotland. However, maintaining this advantage does not mean that it does not adapt and innovate. In fact, it could be considered one of our most innovative sectors. 

Look beyond the liquid and you see a product that leads innovation in terms of packaging, branding and understanding its customer base. 

The challenge

The Scotch market in recent years has faced stiff challenges from emerging whiskies from the likes of Japan, as well as from more established markets, particularly bourbon in America, which some may argue has done a better job of appealing to the younger consumer.

What’s trending?

Looking to the future, there are several key drink trends developing within the market. 

Gin is the obvious one, seeing an unprecedented rise over the past five years within Scotland and abroad, with the craft market particularly exploding. Further innovation of the category is emerging with tea and marmalade flavoured gins trending.

Beyond gin, Dark Matter, Scotland’s first and only rum distillery based in Banchory has found a niche in the market. 

Sober future

One of the less likely innovations we have seen in the sector is non-alcoholic spirits – this has been driven by the younger consumers demand for cocktails but without the booze, for both health and cultural reasons. 

With the growing Middle Eastern market, this could be very lucrative if it takes off. ‘Seedlip’ is one of the first spirits to take hold of the market and drew the attention so much of Diageo that it invested in it last year. 

Other drinks companies too are looking at the non-alcoholic sector carefully. These include Britvic which last year set up an incubator company, Wisehead Productions, to drive innovation of alcohol alternatives.

So the distilling industry may have a more sober future. It looks like ultimately ‘ginnovation’ will be the big trend in the sector for 2017 – where we will see more flavours released, along with more ready-to-drink (pre-mixed) cocktails readily available for the consumer. 

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