The Double-Edged Sword of Trendy Spirits: How to Spot Quality in a Crowded Field

trendy spirits

How to tell trendy spirits from a passing fads. Hello, you discerning spirits enthusiasts! If you’ve been paying attention to the liquor landscape, you’ve probably noticed the ebb and flow of trends that shake things up from time to time. One minute, vodka is the reigning king, and the next, it’s gin or bourbon that’s flying off the shelves. While this can make for an exciting market, it also brings with it some drawbacks that we need to talk about today. So grab your favorite glass and let’s get into it.

The Spirit of the Moment

Ah, trends! They can be exciting, offering up a delightful shake-up in an industry that can sometimes feel stagnant. When trendy spirits emerge, it often means more innovation, more options, and more general public interest. We all remember the tequila craze that introduced a generation to high-quality, sippable tequilas that were a far cry from the cheap stuff we regretted the morning after. However, the flood of celebrity-endorsed spirits brands calls into question whether this is a quality boom or an opportunist money-grab. We feel its a little of both.

Opportunists: The Party Crashers

However, there’s always that one party crasher who doesn’t bring anything to the table but manages to take away all the good vibes. In the spirits industry, these are the low-quality opportunists. When bourbon, tequila or gin starts becoming fashionable, they jump on the bandwagon, producing spirits that are often subpar. Let’s be honest, what does a celebrity bring to the table in terms of quality spirits or wine? Does anyone think that the typical celebrity is a gold-metal master distiller, Master brewer or wine master? Worse still, they have a knack for inflating prices, duping consumers into paying premium prices for what amounts to average, commercial brew. We’ll try to offer some guidance in the era of trendy spirits categories and brands.

The Novice Consumer’s Dilemma

How to avoid low-quality trendy spirits? This kind of opportunism really stings for novice consumers who are just trying to dip their toes into a new category of spirits. Imagine you’ve just developed a liking for bourbon. You go to a liquor store, see a fancy-looking bottle with a jacked-up price, and think, “Hey, this must be the good stuff!” You get home, pour yourself a glass, and… yuck. Now, your budding interest in bourbon has been unfairly tainted by a bad experience, which is genuinely heartbreaking for any spirits enthusiast to see.

Many distilleries have figured-out how to create scarcity by limiting the amount of product the release. By creating false shortages, they artificially inflate prices. Some of the most sought-after bourbons sell for two-to-three times their value as a result. The bourbon craze is driving-up prices to ridiculous levels and it’s not about an unprecedented boom in quality.

That said, there are some very talented and hardworking distillers making some incredible mash bills. The challenge is sorting through the chaff from the wheat.

Retail Store Bias

As the spirits market evolves, so does the sophistication of retail marketing. Retailers often make deals with producers and/or distributors that can make them very high profit margins on little-known brands that may not be the best quality. Many novices will rely upon a retailer’s floor staff for recommendations. The first thing you should ask a liquor store sales associate is whether they earn a commission on the products that they recommend. If they do, you need to take that into consideration as this has become a popular practice in some stores.

Long-Term Consequences

So, what’s the big deal about trendy spirits anyway? Why is this important in the grand scheme of things? The issue is that these types of bad experiences can harm the reputation of an entire category of spirits. When people associate bourbon or gin with low quality and inflated prices, they’re less likely to become long-term consumers, and more likely to hop off the trend faster than a cat on a hot tin roof.

Moreover, these dodgy practices can also drown out the quality producers who are genuinely passionate about their craft. For those who’ve been in the industry for years, putting in the hard yards to perfect their distillation techniques, this is a slap in the face.

How to Protect Yourself From Low-Quality Trendy Spirits

So what can you, the consumer, do to protect yourself?

  1. Educate Yourself: Before you buy, read up a little. Even a quick Google search can arm you with enough knowledge to make a more informed decision.
  2. Taste Test: Whenever possible, try before you buy. Many liquor stores offer tasting sessions, or you can visit a local distillery for a tour and a sampling of their range.
  3. Seek Recommendations: Use social media, forums, or simply ask the staff at your local liquor store. Word-of-mouth is often the best way to find those hidden gems.
  4. Trust Established Brands: While new doesn’t always mean bad, established brands have a reputation to uphold and are generally more reliable for consistent quality. However, there are some very popular names, especially in Kentucky who have figured-out how to manipulate supply and demand to inflate prices. Look at historical prices and try to avoid “buying high.” Chances are, if you wait-out the price spikes, your wish-list bottle will likely come down in price if you are patient.

The Bottom Line

Trends in the spirits industry can be fantastic for both consumers and producers, inspiring creativity and bringing attention to deserving categories. However, the advent of opportunists looking to make a quick buck can seriously harm these categories in the long run. Be an educated consumer, make wise choices, and you’ll do your part to ensure the spirits industry remains as vibrant and high-quality as we all want it to be.


A Bourbon-Lover’s Guide to Sifting the Gold from the Grit (avoiding the trendy spirits swamp)

whiskey sales
Trendy Spirits: Whiskey sales

Hey, folks! If you made it to the end of our last article, you’re probably wondering how to navigate the intricate world of bourbon without falling prey to those opportunists we talked about. Worry not, we’ve got you covered! In this addendum, let’s dive into some practical advice on how to evaluate bourbon like a pro. Hold onto your hats; this is going to be a flavorful ride.

Know Your Basics: What Makes a Bourbon?

Before you even step foot in a liquor store, it’s important to know what qualifies a whiskey as a “bourbon.” By U.S. law, bourbon must be:

  • Made in the U.S.
  • Aged in new, charred oak barrels
  • Distilled to no more than 160 proof
  • Entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof
  • Made from a mash bill that is at least 51% corn

Any deviation from these rules, and you’re not sipping on bourbon, my friend.

Evaluating Bourbon: What to Look For

  1. Color: Quality bourbon should have a rich, amber color, often with a golden hue. Pale or overly dark bourbon might be a sign of poor aging or adulteration.
  2. Aroma: Stick your nose in the glass and inhale deeply. You should be getting complex notes like vanilla, caramel, and oak, perhaps with a touch of fruit or spice. If it smells flat, overly harsh, or like a lumberyard, beware.
  3. Taste: Here’s where the rubber meets the road. A good bourbon will be well-balanced between sweetness, spice, and smokiness. It should have a good ‘mouthfeel’—not too watery, but not syrupy either. Each sip should reveal a layer of complexity: first sweet, then spicy, finally ending in a long, warming finish.
  4. Legs: Swirl the bourbon in your glass and observe the ‘legs’ that run down the side. Slow, thick legs can generally indicate a well-aged, full-bodied bourbon.

Red Flags for Cheap Bourbon

  1. Inconsistency: If the brand has wildly different reviews or tasting notes, it may indicate inconsistent production practices, which can be a red flag.
  2. Lack of Complexity: If your bourbon only hits one note (like overpowering sweetness or harsh alcohol burn), it’s probably not a quality pick.
  3. Bad Balance: A bourbon that’s overly tannic, astringent, or bitter might have been aged in low-quality barrels or rushed through the aging process.
  4. Opaque Branding: If you can’t find any info on where and how the bourbon is made, be cautious. Legitimate distillers take pride in their process and are transparent about it.
  5. Too Cheap: Price isn’t everything, but it’s often an indicator. If you find a bottle that’s significantly cheaper than other bourbons on the shelf, be skeptical.

Final Tips

  1. Read the Label: Look for terms like “Straight Bourbon,” which means it’s been aged for at least two years, or “Bottled-in-Bond,” which ensures it’s the product of one distillation season and one distiller at one distillery.
  2. Ask for Recommendations: Your local liquor store staff is a treasure trove of information. Don’t be shy; they love to share their knowledge.
  3. Start with Samples: Many brands offer miniature bottles or tasting kits. This is a great way to explore without committing to a full bottle.

So there you have it, a quick and dirty guide to evaluating bourbon like a seasoned connoisseur. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be sifting the gold from the grit in no time.

Bottoms up!

The Rise and Fall of Gin Trends: A Cautionary Tale for Novice Enthusiasts

gin sales
Trendy Spirits: Gin Sales

Hey, gin lovers and the gin-curious! You may have noticed how the spirits market can sometimes feel like a rollercoaster ride. One minute vodka’s the star of the show, and next it’s bourbon. But what about gin? Oh, gin has had its moments in the sun too. However, just like with any other spirit, there’s a dark side to gin’s popularity peaks that we need to address. As far as trendy spirits go, gin may provide the ultimate cautionary tale. So grab your best tonic or vermouth, and let’s break this down.

The Glistening Age of Gin

Isn’t it amazing when gin comes back into vogue? The artisanal gin movement has been a gift, introducing us to botanical-rich, complex gins that elevate our cocktails to a whole new level. Remember the days when gin was synonymous with juniper and not much else? Well, those days are gone, and thank heavens for that!

Opportunism: A Bitter Botanical in the Gin Garden

As gin’s star rises, we also start to see the not-so-welcome newcomers: the low-quality opportunists. They seize the gin trend and flood the market with bottles that, frankly, aren’t up to snuff. The real kicker? They often price these subpar spirits as if they were crafted by the botanical gods themselves.

The Greenhorn’s Quandary

For newbies who are just beginning to explore gin, these opportunists create a confusing landscape. Imagine being excited to try a premium gin, only to be met with something that tastes like liquid potpourri. It’s enough to make you swear off gin and run back to the more familiar arms of vodka or beer.

The Long Pour: Why This Matters

You might be asking, “Who cares? Trends come and go!” But here’s the rub: these negative experiences can have long-lasting impacts on gin’s reputation. If a new wave of consumers associates gin with being expensive yet lackluster, they might abandon it as quickly as they hopped on the bandwagon.

Furthermore, these low-quality offerings can overshadow the artisans who genuinely care about the spirit’s complexity and richness. Those who have invested time and passion into crafting an exceptional gin can find themselves lost in a sea of mediocrity.

Guiding Your Gin Journey

So, how do you avoid the pitfalls?

  1. Educate Yourself: A little bit of knowledge goes a long way. Learn about the different styles of gin and what botanicals you might prefer.
  2. Taste First: If you can, try before you buy. Many liquor stores and distilleries offer tastings.
  3. Seek Recommendations: Whether it’s from a bartender, a friend, or the social media hive mind, personal endorsements can help guide you to quality bottles.
  4. Trust the Tried-and-True: While new brands can be exciting, established names in the gin world are usually a safer bet for quality.

Wrapping It Up

While trends can breathe new life into the spirits industry, the opportunists they attract can be harmful in the long run. However, being an educated consumer can help you navigate the ebb and flow of these trends, ensuring that you get to enjoy the best that gin has to offer.

Cheers to smart sipping! 🍸

Gin: Your Gin-ius Guide to Evaluating Quality Gin

Wanna become a gin connoisseur? Let’s delve into how you can differentiate a high-quality gin from the mediocre stuff that could ruin your perfect G&T.

Gin Basics: Know Thy Spirit

First off, gin must be a neutral spirit flavored with juniper berries. There are several types like London Dry, Plymouth, and New American, each with their own distinct characteristics. Familiarize yourself with these to know what you might prefer.

Evaluating Quality Gin: A Sniff, Sip, and Swirl Guide

  1. Color: Most quality gins are clear. If it’s a barrel-aged gin, look for a golden hue. Strange colors might be a red flag.
  2. Aroma: A good gin will have a complex nose. Juniper should be present, but look for other notes like citrus, spices, and florals. If it smells like cleaning alcohol, step away.
  3. Taste: Here’s where the fun happens. Quality gin will be balanced, complex, and smooth. It should offer a journey of flavors from start to finish.
  4. Finish: A long, pleasant finish is usually a sign of a well-made gin. If it vanishes quickly or leaves an unpleasant aftertaste, think twice.

Warning Signs of Cheap Gin

  1. One-Note Flavor: If all you taste is juniper (or worse, alcohol), it’s likely a cheap gin.
  2. Harshness: Quality gin should be smooth. If it’s burning all the way down, it’s probably not top-tier.
  3. Lack of Information: If the brand isn’t transparent about their distillation process or the botanicals used, be skeptical.
  4. Too Cheap to Be True: As with most things, you get what you pay for. Exceptionally cheap gin is likely to be low quality.

Final Pro Tips

  1. Read Labels: Look for gins that tell you about their botanicals and distillation process. The more info, the better.
  2. Ask the Experts: Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations from those in the know.
  3. Mini Bottles: Many brands offer smaller bottles or tasting sets. Use these to sample a range before committing to a full bottle.

With these tips in hand, you’re well on your way to becoming a gin aficionado. Happy tasting!

Tequila Trends: The Double-Edged Sword of Popularity

tequila sales
Trendy Spirits: Tequila Sales

Hola, tequila aficionados and newbies alike! We all know that trends in the spirits world can shift faster than a lime wedge sinks in a shot glass. And tequila? Oh, it’s had its share of highs and lows. But here’s the thing: not every bottle that comes out during a tequila boom is worthy of your salt rim. Grab your snifter or shot glass, and let’s dive into the complicated world of tequila trends.

Tequila’s Time to Shine

There’s nothing like a tequila trend to bring some sunshine into the liquor aisle. You start seeing a more extensive array of options, from earthy mezcals to nuanced añejos. This is the time when your margaritas reach new heights, and your sipping tequilas become a focal point at gatherings. Ah, the joy!

The Temptation of Trendiness

However, with the boom comes the potential bust. Enter the opportunists, the low-quality producers who ride the coattails of tequila’s popularity to push subpar spirits onto the market. The sad part? They often price these bottles as if they were nectar from the agave gods themselves.

The Novice’s Dilemma

For those new to tequila, these low-quality bottles can tarnish the whole experience. Imagine forking out some serious cash for a “premium” tequila only to find out it’s barely a notch above lighter fluid. You’d think twice before giving tequila another chance, right? For a comprehensive look at demystifying the tequila label read the Felene article.

The Ripple Effect: Why This Matters

When novice consumers get burned, they’re not likely to return to the tequila market anytime soon. This not only hurts reputable producers but can also taint the spirit’s reputation in the long run. Low-quality tequilas can crowd the market, making it harder for high-quality, artisanal producers to shine through.

Arm Yourself with Knowledge

  1. Know Your Types: Whether it’s blanco, reposado, or añejo, each has its unique characteristics. Get familiar with what you like.
  2. Taste Test: If possible, try before you buy. Tasting flights at bars or distilleries are great for this.
  3. Recommendations are Gold: Listen to what bartenders, friends, or social media reviewers have to say.
  4. Stick to the Classics: If you’re new to the game, starting with tried-and-true brands is usually a safe bet.

Final Thoughts

Tequila, like any other spirit, can suffer from its own popularity. But armed with a little knowledge and discernment, you can navigate the choppy waters of trending spirits and discover the true gems that tequila has to offer.

Salud! 🥃

Tequila: Your Guide to Savoring Quality Tequila

If you’ve read this far, you’re likely keen on avoiding the pitfalls we’ve discussed. So let’s help you become an agave connoisseur, shall we?

Know Your Tequila

In a nutshell, real tequila is made from 100% blue agave, primarily from the region of Tequila, Mexico. Anything less is a mixto, and trust me, you want to stay away from those.

The Sip Test: What to Look for

  1. Color: Blanco should be clear, while reposado and añejo will have varying shades of gold. Off colors can be a warning sign.
  2. Smell: Good tequila will have a pleasant, inviting aroma with notes of agave, possibly some floral or citrus accents, and maybe a bit of vanilla or caramel for aged versions.
  3. Taste: Quality tequila should be smooth and should offer complex flavors beyond just the kick of alcohol. Look for earthy, fruity, or even spicy notes that linger on the palate.
  4. Finish: A high-quality tequila will have a finish that is long and warming, not a sharp burn.

Red Flags for Subpar Tequila

  1. Price: If it’s dirt cheap, it’s likely not made from 100% agave.
  2. Lack of Complexity: If all you taste is alcohol and a sharp bite, it’s probably low quality.
  3. No Information: If the bottle doesn’t clearly state it’s made from 100% agave, assume it’s not.
  4. Marketing Gimmicks: Overly flashy bottles may be compensating for what’s inside. Quality tequila doesn’t need to shout.

Pro Tips

  1. Read Labels: Always look for the “100% agave” notation.
  2. Country of Origin: Make sure it’s from Mexico. No, that “Tequila” made in Idaho won’t cut it.
  3. Mini Bottles: Look for small bottles or tasting sets to try before you invest in a full bottle.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a tequila connoisseur capable of navigating even the trendiest of booms and busts.

Arriba, abajo, al centro, adentro!

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