Drink Like a Millennial

I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience. – Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre (the ultimate 19th century Millennial)

Popular wisdom has it that Millennials drink differently from Baby Boomers but from the same side of the glass.

This year 2017 Millennials outnumbered Baby Boomers (who are typecast as rejecting authority but becoming conservative as they aged).

The marketers, who worry endlessly about the preferences of the Millennials would tell us the key differences are:

Millennials drink less
Millennials drink better quality
Millennials appreciate experiences
Millennials favour craft over mass production

A Millennials is a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century. So those born 1980 and later.  Many definitions give different years but this suits my purposes)

By 2025 Millennials will be 75% of the workforce, hence why the whisky marketers are targeting them above any other group. Millennials look for price transparency, are educated, make value-based decisions and seek authenticity. They are not an easy sell.

Since 1980 the product ranges in all markets have changed quite radically as has consumer knowledge. Cask strength expressions, single barrel, Independent bottling, expensive NAS expressions have all forced variety and prices upward. The demand for older and rarer bottles has further increased this trend.

Millennials are allegedly more financially pressed than previous generations. So to drink like a Millennial look for experience and engagement over spending.

The experiential market has developed to meet this demand we have seen the emergence of new ways of enjoying whisky.

Whisky Tourism

The ultimate experience for the whisky lover must be a whisky holiday. There are so many trips around the world there is no shortage of choice.

Visit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to visit the main distilleries and include historic and heritage sites, bars and hotels. Learn from the Master Distillers themselves.

The many new craft whisky distilleries offer the enterprising tourist more personal experiences.

Other Distilleries offer a work in a be a Distiller for a day experience. 5 & 20 in New York offer just such an experience.

Every day new experiences are opening, Buffalo Trace recently opened its Bourbon Pompeii tour of old E.H Taylor buildings, distillery and warehouse sites, recently restored and uncovered.

In Scotland visit The Malt Whisky Tail in Speyside, visiting some great Distilleries and The Speyside Cooperage or even attend the Spirit of Speyside festival.

For the ultimate Scottish Whisky pilgrimage, the Feis Isle Festival on Islay which attracts whisky lovers from around the world is a festival of Music and Malt held in May/June each year, with the distilleries releasing Feis Isle bottling each year. Meet up with old friends, make new ones and visit the now 9 Distilleries.

The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh may be a shorter more convenient visit for some.

The Famous Grouse Experience at Crieff offers an interesting attraction featuring different tours covering, Distillery, Warehousing, Blending and Tasting, and even the ‘Be a still-man for a day.’

There are many other options. A Millennial will research and learn and plan their tour to take in the experiences they would most appreciate.

Distillery tours and tastings

Visitor Centres are almost the norm now. You can learn about the process, meet the Distillers and same and taste whisky at all points of the process. My local Distillery offers a variety of tours including a heritage tour and multiple whiskys with chocolate tastings. The type and content of tours vary through the year depending on the workscope of the distillery, so it is advisable to check in advance what is current.

Tasting Events

For the big whisky fan, events, fairs, festivals and tastings are a highlight. Every main city in Kentucky and Scotland seems to host one or more of these events. The format is that your ticket gives access to a number of quality drinks. You pay more to taste the oldest and rarest of expressions. At the best events chat with the producers and suppliers of glassware, bar equipment and other items to further your enjoyment of whisky. Again it is a great opportunity for socialising and at many of these events, whisky ‘celebrities’ attend because they are enthusiasts as well as being industry professionals. They are usually ‘selfie’ friendly.

New Opportunities

Millennials will be prepared to try new developments. Non-age statement expressions seem to hold fewer fears for them. Different barrels, cocktails and styles all can be tried without commitment. Millennials take their learning and experimentation seriously. Less anchored to the past as a group they offer the opportunity to innovate and experiment to the enterprising distiller. They are I assert less influenced by marketing and are certainly better informed through Social Media.

By drinking like a Millennial you will have great experiences, social opportunities and a much wider appreciation of your hobby. The temptation to pick up these special Distillery bottling has to be resisted. No guarantees about feeling younger but it most certainly defers the onset of old age.

The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark ― Thomas Paine, A Letter Addressed to the Abbe Raynal on the Affairs of North America