If you’ve ever looked at a beverage menu, thought “hmmm, what will make me seem more elegant and debonair” and then ultimately decided on whiskey or some other brown liquor because vodka or gin were just too immature, you’re not alone. In fact so many people want their spirits brown that alcohol manufacturers are taking note. Marshmallow-flavored vodka? Out. Fancy brown bourbon? Very, very in.
According to Quartz, vodka has developed an “image problem” amongst the people who used to drink it. In fact, clear alcohols have had a reversal of fortunate as of late, dropping in sales below whiskey and bourbon for the past three years running.
For younger consumers especially, darker liquors have a craft feel that fits a more mature, complex palette. Vodkas, by contrast, have spent the last decade coming out with flavors—like marshmallow and peanut butter and jelly—which ultimately cheapened their brands.
We’re not here to tell you how to live your life, but there’s got to be a better reason to drink whiskey than because it makes you seem more mature and complex, right? Sure, peanut butter vodka sounds disgusting — and, as Uproxx editor Ashley Burns points out, is clearly a marketing tactic to get young people hooked on alcohol — but there’s no reason to give up the clear stuff!
“People are generally trading up,”says Linda Montag, a senior beverage analyst at Moody’s. Beer preferences have moved in a similar direction, she adds. “Folks want craft beer because it’s new and it’s sexy. Instead of chugging kegs of cheap beer, they’d rather be selective and pay up.”
That doesn’t mean that vodka and gin are out of the running yet, though! It does mean, however, that manufacturers are taking these new preferences into account when making decisions on what to make, which distilleries to buy, and how to age and brand even their clear liquors to appeal to a demographic that values the ‘cool and confident’ image that drinking a fine bourbon conjures. That includes aging those same clear liquors in a way that will give them a pleasing brownish hue. Get ready for barrel aged Popov and Seagrams!