All about making whisky
The profile of the whisky enthusiast has greatly changed in recent years. The image of the old man savouring his whisky, sat comfortably in his armchair, has now become outdated. These days, whisky is no longer a drink reserved for the elite but a commonly consumed product. Nonetheless, it is worth distinguishing everyday whiskies, mainly blends, from tasting whiskies, especially Scottish single malts. Though drinking everyday whiskies has become much more accessible thanks to supermarkets, the tasting whiskies segment remains a niche market that attracts a passionate clientèle that never ceases to inspire others. For these new enthusiasts, tasting a whisky is part of a veritable way of life.
Curiosity is undoubtedly the adjective that best defines the new enthusiast. Eager to find out more, they have a keen eye for anything new. Bookcases proudly display their books and specialist magazines on the subject. Experienced internet users, they use the medium not just to increase their knowledge but also to get in contact with other enthusiasts. This thirst for culture is often accompanied by trips dedicated to visiting distilleries. Some of these have, over time, become veritable pilgrimages. In reality, new enthusiasts are interested in everything connected to whisky, from a distillery’s trade secrets to the career paths of the people working there.
Though tasting whiskies is very popular among 40-50 year olds, an increasing number of young adults are also taking an interest. And as we all know, the appreciation of quality has nothing to do with age. So we see more and more young twenty-somethings, from a wide range of horizons, passionate about single malts, bourbons and Irish whiskeys. These young enthusiasts, in search of authenticity, are not easily influenced. They are not just extremely critical, they are also very demanding and more versatile than their elders. And unlike their elders, they rarely become attached to just one brand. Another trend we’ve noticed is that women are becoming increasingly present among these new enthusiasts, taking their place in a segment that was once seen as one of the last remaining male bastions.
The new generation of enthusiasts shows an astonishingly mature palate. They are always on the hunt for the best and, bolstered by their knowledge, their approach to tasting assumes a quasi-analytical nature. Though their tasting sessions are friendly (whisky is increasingly tasted amongst friends), they are a pretext for discussion and for the exchange of ideas. Tasting a whisky is an aromatic and gustatory journey, as well as an invitation to comment and draw on metaphor. The language of tasting is, consequently, already adapted to this evolution. Through time, a tasting ritual has also developed. Nothing is left to chance. The temperature, location and tasting glass are all crucial elements that contribute to the taster’s enjoyment.
These days, the enthusiast is on a permanent quest for new sensations. With very eclectic tastes, their drinks cabinets are filled with a large range of whiskies from different origins. The professionals in the sector have caught on to this too. They increasingly offer special bottlings (single casks, un-chillfiltered whiskies, cask strength whiskies, special finishes, etc.) with the aim of satisfying these enthusiasts’ constantly growing thirst for discovery. Nonetheless the new enthusiast is often wary of excessive marketing. As well as variety and originality, they privilege quality above all. It would be a mistake to consider the new enthusiast as simply a newcomer without any influence. Through their behaviour and their objective approach to tasting, they have become essential players in the world of whisky, that distillers and independent bottlers are keen to attract. In this way they play an important role in the qualitative evolution of whisky.