Posted on September 10, 2015
The American palate has been changing recently, with whiskey overtaking vodka as the popular spirit. Data analyzed from more than 700,000 BARTENDr app users from all across the U.S. found that the two most popular brands of hard alcohol are Fireball Whisky and Jack Daniel’s. In this study, Fireball, which is actually a cinnamon-flavored liquor, tied with Jack Daniel’s for first in 15 states. That is surprising enough, but so is that 42 out of 50 states picked some whiskey brand as their favorite.
Vodka has long since been the favorite spirit in the U.S., but now is may be that only two states favor this classic. The BARTENDr data showed that people in Virginia and Maryland still prefer vodka, but in Maryland Svedka vodka shared the number-one spot with Fireball.
Vodka consumption has been declining for a few years now, about 2 percent from 2010 to 2014 after leading spirit sales for the last decade. Whiskey sales went up 3 percent in that same four-year span, with American bourbon and Tennessee whiskey sales skyrocketing 17 percent.
Market analysts say that this is largely due to women favoring whiskey. Top vodka brands like Smirnoff and Absolut have strongly marketed toward women, but an increasing number of this demographic are now preferring whiskey. This in pace with the rest of Americans. People in the U.S. drank 24 million cases of U.S.-made whiskey in 2013, which was a 30 percent increase from 1983.
Whiskey has had a masculine connotation for nearly its entire life. After prohibition ended in the U.S. in 1933, there was still a strong negative opinion of alcohol. Prohibitionists were still protesting the lift of the ban and championed the belief that women who drank whiskey were associated with prostitution and some states even banned women from being featured in liquor ads. Distilleries, especially whiskey distilleries, turned away from marketing to women. The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. banned advertising directly to women, which was lifted in 1987.
In the last 10 years, vodka brands marketed primarily toward women over men. Some believe that this change in women’s drinking preferences is the market turning away from sweet vodka flavors, and the 600 flavored brands. The fruity vodka drinks have also gained social notoriety for being “girl drinks,” which seems to no longer be true - if it ever was. Whiskey has become the new American favorite, and the ladies are having a glass, as well.