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In a recent article, we gave some insight into the growing popularity of gin. In this week’s newsletter we explore the ever-trending whiskey and the emerging trend of brandy, the ‘last frontier’ of spirits:

Whiskey is a flavour experience like no other, whether you like it or not. There is little that compares to a dram of that silky, amber elixir or the ethereal bouquet that leaves its imprint upon your senses. Likewise, brandy -which Victor Hugo once described as the ‘liquor of the gods’- has acted as the fountainhead of many a human inspiration. Whiskey and brandy have been around for nearly a thousand years. What is the secret to their enduring popularity?

Brandy, cognac, whisky and bourbon flavours

For those who are unfamiliar with the specifics, here is a quick breakdown: Brandies and whiskies go by many names. For instance, Cognac is to brandy what Scotch is to whiskey. They are labels that imply a certain standard: both Cognac and Scotch have traditionally been considered the kings of their spirit category (though this is certainly debateable), with strict regulations on where they are produced, what ingredients are used and how they are blended and aged. These details determine how a brandy or whiskey  can be named. The impact of terroir is said to impart a superior quality to the finished product and a great sense of national pride therefore inspires the art of distillation. In this vein, over the years there has been an ever-deepening tribalization within spirits, a proliferation of labels, each with its own set of criteria: everything from Calvados (apple brandy from Normandy) to bourbon (American corn whiskey) to the more recent Japanese and Tasmanian whiskeys that have been taking the spirits world by storm.

Regardless of your personal preferences, both whiskey and brandy categories have exploded in popularity over the past decade. Bourbon production alone has increased by more than 150% during this period. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS), in 2018, demand for bourbons, ryes and Tennessee whiskeys had soared year over year, with volume rising 5.9% and revenue increasing by 6.6% to $3.6 billion. American rye was the main driver, with sales increasing by an impressive 15.9%. Global demand for Scotch whiskeys, meanwhile, has become so high that it has sparked fears of distillery stock shortages and the potential ‘extinction’ of favourite mature single malts. Similarly, brandies are forecasted to reach 80.76 billion USD in global sales by 2024 from 52.7 billion USD in 2014, on the winds of growing interest and exploration of ‘non-whiskey’ brown spirits. Local craft brandies have begun to emerge, potentially presaging the booms witnessed in craft gins and whiskeys in recent years.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint the exact reason for this boom. The rise of both spirits has been alternately attributed to the growth of the premium cocktail market, the return of cocktail culture, the ubiquitous spread of informal restaurants around the world, and a permeating sense of nostalgia and romance for the speakeasies of the Prohibition era, as depicted in the media. Social media, certainly, has reinvigorate the craft cocktail community. Mixology pages with hundreds of thousands of followers regularly feature innovative whiskey- and brandy-based cocktails that push the boundaries to a prime audience.

It is unsurprising, then, that whiskey flavours are broadly used in packaged food products. In 2019, Haagen-Dazs launched a line of spirit-inspired ice creams, including bourbon, Irish cream and whiskey chocolate truffle, showcasing the potential of whiskey flavours in frozen desserts. Irish cream has also found its way into cookies, cakes, syrups, sauces and chocolates. At recent tradeshows, Novotaste showcased a decadent Irish cream flavour in a series of flavoured chocolates and a distinctive bourbon flavour that transformed the typical Old Fashioned Mocktail.

Although whiskey continues to make noise in the flavour world, brandy is suspiciously absent. A search for brandy-flavoured food products yields little. Since brandies commonly have fruity flavours like apple, apricot, cherry and peach among others, the absence of these flavours in product development is striking. Brandy has been referred to as the ‘last frontier of spirits’. It seems like only a matter of time that brandy-flavoured foods reach the shelves. Novotaste’s line of brandy flavours can help you get ahead of the curve.

We have a line of characteristic spirit flavours that are readily tailored to just about any application. Get into contact with us if you would be interested in trying our whiskey, cognac, brandy or bourbon-inspired flavours in your applications. We can also suggest a variety of spirit-inspired creations, such as: grapefruit & thyme brandy, lemon-blood orange & nutmeg whiskey, juniper, lemon & cognac, black cherry, vermouth & cognac, yuzu brandy, cranberry-bourbon applesauce, whiskey-walnut crème brûlée, apricot & ginger brandy, mango & pistachio whiskey, caramel & blueberry bourbon, ginger, lime & orange blossom whiskey.

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From the vaults:

Know the Difference between Brandy, Cognac, Whisky and Bourbon

Whisky Flavour Wheels and Colour Charts

The Nosing Wheel

All Things Whisky

Between Science And Art The Role Of The Cask In Whisky Maturation-Stuart Baxter

Food science-related
Food science trends

What Gives Your Favorite Whiskey Its Unique Flavor?

Why Rye? A Journey Of Flavor Generation From Crop To Cask

Flavor Development Episode 4: Defining Sources of Flavor in Whisky (Aldehydes)

Why Does Whiskey Taste Like Whiskey?

In the Land of Peat & Whiskey

Why Whiskey Tastes Better with Water

Understanding what makes Tennessee whiskey unique

The Hunt for Unicorn Bourbon Barrels

Olfaction And The Science Behind Nosing A Whisky

Multisensory whiskey
Multisensory trends

Whiskey In An Immersive, Multi-Sensory Way

Multisensory Whisky Shrine composed of 952 whiskey bottles to taste

Whisky expert explains how the drink tastes often uses more senses than we may think

Mocktails Served Right: Flavor systems can give your mocktails the authenticity they need…and make them taste like the real thing

Prohibition: Flavour solutions for mocktails, alcohol, CBD beverages & various food applications

How to make your products taste & smell like authentic gin

Flavour ideas Inspired by recent international food, beverage & flavour trends

Recent flavour trends

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