What’s in store for Whisky and the Year of 2016
The year of 2015 saw a lot of positive things for whisky globally and much likewise for us here in the Philippines. For starters, we should acknowledge the opening of several whisky-centered bars in the Metro. From secret single malt bars to Japanese whisky havens, its up to you to discover them and you’ll quickly find out why most people frequent these spots as “their second home.” No, these aren’t just your average “bucket special” tambay spots either. Whiskypreneurs in Manila have definitely raised the bar in terms of whisky selection, availability and creating the right ambiance to for a complete overall experience.
Next, the awareness level for single malt has increased to a larger demographic, specifically to a younger generation of drinkers. It’s still far from mainstream but you are starting to see people drink their whisky neat, even at the clubs. I would credit this phenomenon party because of the Japanese whisky craze. Our country in the past couple years has experienced a Ramen craze, Katsu craze, Teppanyaki craze, and last year marked the Japanese whisky craze. And while it has toned down a bit, there’s always something about our Asian counterparts that fascinates Filipinos.
Generally speaking, I think based off of the performance of whisky in 2015 in addition to the predicted growth of the international popularity, 2016 looks like it may be an even better year for whisky. Here are some of my predictions for whisky in 2016:
Overall Whisky Prediction
Overall it is predicted that consumption growth will do great in 2016. More and more people are moving away from drinks with lots of sugar and carbs in it such as cocktails and beer. This means they are looking for an alternative. Secondary whisky markets around the world performed very well in 2015 and do not show any sign of stopping. While labels once felt threatened with a shortage of “aged” supply, many have countered by discontinuing some of their age statement labels and replacing them with non-age statement bottles. A move that we initially thought would offend many whisky connoisseurs, but the opposite seemed to take effect as overall sales actually skyrocketed with the overall demand.
The fact that whisky is whisky helps push it on the market. When you are mixing drinks with whisky there is no reason to go with a whisky that is top shelf. The whisky you choose to make cocktails can be experimented with and that’s what this new generation of drinkers seem to accept. Give it a try and see what it is like. Based off whisky ratings this year could spell the year of trying new choices and labels aren’t afraid to test the market anymore.
Canadian whiskey is going to be the big player in 2016. Every year Jim Murray releases a famous whisky bible and gives an award to a whisky of the year. Before 2015 the whisky of the year award went to mainly Scottish whiskies and 2015 surprised many whisky drinkers by awarding the yearly award to a Japanese whisky. Once again this year we were surprised that another non-Scottish whisky was chosen as the 2016 Whisk(e)y of The Year Award went to Canada’s brand Crown Royal, specifically their Northern Harvest Rye which recently debuted last April and has seen a record high score of 97.5 points. The Northern Harvest Rye typically only goes between $30 and $40 a bottle and is generally accessible to the western market so the public has bought into the hype.
Murray admittedly considered getting rid of Canadian whisky in the whisky bible because it has been going downhill in terms of quality but he believes that the Northern Harvest Rye has changed that. By redeeming the name of Canada it will increase Canadian whiskey sales and potentially spark other Canadian brands to step up their game and produce better quality whiskey.
Not everybody is sold however and many are skeptical of the validity of Jim Murray and his ratings but at the end of the day, we should just take his word for it and thank him for his dedication to the whisky industry. It is somewhat ironic though that I’ve been seeing these Crown Royal commercials run over and over on the NBA Premium channel. Is the 2016 “whisky of the year” really just the 2016 “marketed whisky of the year”?
Scottish whisky will always have a level of authority in the world of malts. Whisky is Scotch, just as Pizza is Italian or Sushi is Japanese. As many other whiskies from other countries have rightly stepped up their game and even notched the other top four whisky spots in the whisky bible, the Scots still hold the crown and it won’t be changing for generations to come.
There have been a large number of small batch and craft distilleries popping up in the States and I’ve recently discovered through one of our members that a distillery has opened up in my old hometown of San Francisco of all places. I’m very curious to try some of these labels but as of now it’s still too early to tell where the future holds for them. I think nowadays it’s easy to come up with a good product to gratify consumer demand and these guys are awesome at doing that. However, I can also sense that some of these distilleries are merely startup projects run by young entrepreneurs, utilizing top notch business and marketing tools to accomplish one goal – to be bought out by a bigger industry player.
As for me, what are my personal whisky goals for 2016? Well it will probably be the same goal every year, which is to be able to taste something that I haven’t before. I also would like to hold regular meetups and tastings for our whisky society group and we’ll be needing your help. In the meanwhile let’s all look forward to another good year ahead.