Aside from a brief plateau during 2020 lockdowns, premiumisation has been the biggest buzzword in spirits over the past five years. The whisky, rum, tequila and gin trends have seen the super-premium categories boom.
The growth of conscious consumption in Australia means consumers prefer to drink less, but are making sure their tipple is premium quality when they do indulge.
It’s led to a rise in alcohol subscription services that offer craft, hard-to-find and limited edition drinks choices. Liquor Loot, for example, made more than 40,000 deliveries in 2020 and expects to double it in 2021.
Whisky Loot and its sister site Gin Loot offer 60ml tasting bottles of spirits as opposed to full bottles, which enable consumers to try a variety of spirits and learn more about them.
Liquor Loot Spirits Specialist Tim Laferla (above), who worked at Sydney’s iconic Charlie Parker’s and Scout before joining the subscription service – sat down with Drinks Digest to discuss the big trends in spirits for 2022.
What do you predict will be the biggest trends to hit the whisky sector in 2022 in Australia?
The whisky industry here in Australia seems to be super focused on different cask varieties. In the latter half of this year, we’ve seen the first inklings of some ultra experimental casks coming out of Aussie distilleries beyond your standard ex-bourbon, fortified wine and red wine barrels.
For example, we’ve seen a bunch of soft drink seasoned casks, such as Lark Chinotto Cask and 78 Degrees Ginger Ale Cask. On top of this, an ever-growing number of beer casks are being released as relations become more symbiotic between breweries and distilleries – many Aussie distilleries, you may not know, don’t actually brew their own wash. They employ the expertise of local breweries instead and just take care of distillation and aging. Expect more of this continuing into 2022.
What about the gin sector?
Premium and local gin is finally moving to the RTD space! Gone are the days where you could only find the cheapest, nastiest gin and tonic pre-mixed and ready to drink. More and more local craft distilleries are pushing the industry forward and coming out with premium canned and bottled offerings, so you don’t have to sacrifice quality or convenience. These last few months of 2022 have seen many releases from Manly Spirits, Four Pillars, Prohibition Liquor Co and Wolf Lane Distillery.
What trends have you noticed among your subscribers in 2021?
Our subscribers are a curious bunch – to be honest the more weird and wonderful it gets, the more they seem to love it! On top of the unusual casks for whisky, we’ve featured all manner of intriguing gins – such as ones made with ants, sheep’s milk, and even kale! It sounds strange, but it’s all positively delicious stuff!
What’s been fuelling the growth of alcohol subscription services in 2021?
The eCommerce sector is still booming, continuing from 2020 and the pandemic, with no signs of slowing down. Likewise, many businesses are also trending to subscription-based models. This was the perfect storm for us, with much of the country spending a sizable chunk of 2021 in lockdown. Whisky Loot and Gin Loot were the perfect distraction and a curated experience people could enjoy at their own pace at home.
How do you think the subscription market will evolve in 2022?
The subscription market is becoming increasingly competitive; there are only so many subscriptions someone can have at once. So not only are subscriptions competing against like for like, but they’re also competing against all subscriptions in general. On top of value and convenience, I think we’re going to see some very creative strategies for retaining and growing subscribers in 2022.
Is the at-home mixology trend here to stay? How has it changed perceptions of spirits?
Definitely for gin and other spirits. Categories like gin, tequila and rum have benefitted from this, making drinking much more fun and approachable. Whisky still tends to be a bit old school and stuck in its ways. People often have staunch and pushy views about drinking it as it is, either neat or over ice; anything else is labelled as “blasphemy”! But even that is slowly changing. Here at Whisky Loot, we’re simply big fans of enjoying your spirits however you choose – that is the always “best” way to drink them.