Hooch Trends 2018
No industry is static. Consumer tastes change, and so does society for that matter. What was taboo or relegated to the realm of stupid ideas a generation ago is the next generation's normal. This applies to the liquor industry too. It can be easy to forget that, as we make a product steeped in centuries of tradition where that timelessness is part of the marketing plan.
There will always be a place for traditions in distilling. The new trend in drinking needs a good solid base to be built off of. That said, all of this boils down to one major factor - Millennials. They aren't going to be the generation that stops drinking, but they aren't going to sit in the den sipping straight bourbon from a Glencairn like their grandfathers.
Environmental concerns still occupy a prominent spot in the minds of many consumers and continues to be on an upward trend. It is also a universal selling point since even people who don't believe in climate change still want to breathe clean air or catch trout in unpolluted streams. Using sustainable methods and recyclable materials is a good starting point. Some eco-friendly steps, like switching over to LED lighting is not only good for the environment but can also save you money.
Color in Drinks
This is a social media driven trend. People love the idea of sharing pics of drinks that have striking, photogenic qualities. As much as a nice amber color might be, electric blues and vibrant greens stand out and make good Instagram posts. One potential problem with this trend is that it hangs on the superficial aspect of a drink's appearance. And if everyone makes a drink for every color of the rainbow, then colorful drinks won't be that special.
Filtering a drink until it was as clear as could be was once standard operating procedure. Times have changed, and now a growing number of people are thinking of unfiltered spirits as having a richer flavor and being more of a natural product. i.e., all the good stuff hasn't been removed via an artificial process. This even applies to vodka, gin, and other clear drinks.
The end of the prohibition on marijuana seems inevitable. With more states legalizing marijuana for both medicinal and recreational uses, there will be a new competitor in the intoxicant market. This is just me making an educated guess, but "big marijuana" will probably be a thing before it gets its own version of a craft industry. That means a lot of dollars will be spent building up a customer base. Best start planning a marketing strategy now. And while you are at it, assuming weed is legal in your distillery's state, and no regulations are preventing it, you can partner up and make cannabis-infused drinks.
More Moderate Drinking
While craft distilling is growing, younger people are drinking less. Not only are they drinking less, but they are also often opting for a lower proof option including using drinks like vermouth in cocktails. Part of this trend stems from attitudes towards food. The younger generation of drinkers don't want to consume a bunch of empty calories or not any more than they have to.
A regular drink with some sparkle added to it is starting to gain some attention. Making a drink carbonated is an easy way to add texture which brings to it an extra dimension that makes it more appealing to some drinkers. A growing number of people are more conscious about what goes into their food, and a little bit of bubbly adds some adventure without a long list of artificial sounding ingredients. Sparkling is also synonymous with fancy and high class, which can also be a workable selling point.