The Rise of New World Whisky: A Movement Shaking up the Traditional Whisky Industry
In recent years, a new movement has been taking the world of whisky by storm. The "New World Whisky" movement is characterized by innovative production techniques, unique ingredients, and fresh perspectives. This shift away from traditional whisky production is shaking up the industry and changing the way we think about whisky.
As whisky blenders, this is hugely exciting for us. Whilst the palate of flavour within scotch whisky is vast - two factors in particular have left the status quo within blended whisky leaving much to be desired. We don't really want to get into the debate about whether a blending house based in Leith can be part of the New World movement or not. Whilst there's certainly alot we align to in terms of ethos and approach - our roots, HQ, location and most of the releases to date are all technically and very firmly old world plays. Maybe we're living proof that having two extreme camps in which to define a category that has so much diversity is a poor state of play. Nonetheless, people often ask about New World Whisky so we hope this short explainer helps.
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The rise in interest and consumption of Single Malt has meant that many distilleries are reserving stocks of their product to be released as single malt. This has deprived many blends of important ingredients and it is possible that some have altered recipes to incorporate alternative whiskies or less (distillery x) than the formulation used to rely on to compensate.
Secondly, the increasing amount of whisky stock being purchased by cask investment companies has meant that there is more competition for whisky stocks on the open market. Brokers are an important and welcome part of the whisky industry but their stocks are now not just going to blenders at prices linked to supply and demand linked to consumption patterns - a third centre of gravity has swept into the industry causing extra pressure on the whole ecosystem.
What is New World Whisky?New World Whisky refers to spirits produced outside of the traditional whisky-producing countries such as Scotland, Ireland, and Japan. It encompasses a range of styles and production methods, from using unusual ingredients like malted barley to aging in different types of barrels. The goal of New World Whisky makers is arguably to create a unique taste experience, different from traditional whiskies. This is achieved through simply doing it somewhere else, or doing it in a different way using a variety of techniques.
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Why is New World Whisky on the Rise?
The rise of New World Whisky can be attributed to several factors, including the increasing interest in craft spirits, the desire for new and unique experiences, and the popularity of whisky globally. Consumers are looking for something different and new world whisky makers are delivering, experimenting with new ingredients, aging processes, and production techniques.
Moreover, the rise of new world whisky is also driven by the emergence of new whisky-producing regions. In countries like Australia, India, and the United States, the whisky industry is growing rapidly and producing high-quality spirits. This is attracting attention and recognition from both consumers and industry experts.
What makes new world whisky so exciting?
The diversity is a large part of it. Nowadays almost every country that has consumed Scotch Whisky is producing its own version. What has emerged is a broad spectrum of styles each telling a slightly different story with their unique approaches or production quirks. Terroir plays a role too with cask supply from adjacent industries yielding particular taste profile trends or the climate being another factor in defining the 'country style' emerging from these new world producing countries.
A second factor is their relative youth. At Woven we believe that some of the appeal is the fact that they're not bogged down in history and heritage. There's an open-ness to experimentation at both a production and consumption. This makes them more appealing to next-generation whisky drinkers who are looking for different products that speak to them in different ways.
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What Does the Future Hold for New World Whisky?
The future of New World Whisky looks bright, with more and more producers entering the market, and consumers demanding unique and innovative products. As the movement continues to gain momentum, it's likely that we'll see even more exciting and unconventional whiskies in the coming years.
Both Diageo and Pernod Ricard, who between them dominate the Scotch industry globally to the sound of (60-80% of the market) have both invested heavily in new distillery projects in China, as well as acquisitions of interesting new world distilleries at a grass roots level. It is a trend that isn't going away.
Why Blend New World Whisky?
Quite simply - for all the same reasons why we'd blend Scotch or any other type of whisky. But the added joy for us as blenders is the discovery of new, exciting flavours that we haven't experienced before. Adding these either to blends based on Scotch Whisky or creating completely new whiskies is an exciting way for us to explore previously undiscovered flavour profiles.
Our first foray into this area is SUPERBLEND - a blend of whiskies from different origins. Whilst not strictly new world whisky - it embodies the mindset and does utilise whiskies from England and Germany which would fit the definition for new world whisky.
Who are some of the best new world whisky distilleries?
There are so many to mention here that we'll just have to suggest a few notable examples that we believe embody the movement.
Kyro Distillery (Finland)
White Peak Distillery (England)
The Oxford Artisan Distillery (England)
St Killian Distillery (Germany)
Zuidam Distillers (Netherlands)
In conclusion, the rise of New World Whisky is a testament to the creativity and innovation of whisky makers around the world. It's an exciting time for whisky lovers, as we explore new tastes and experiences. So, next time you're looking for something different, consider trying a New World Whisky and discover the unique taste experience it has to offer.
Distil ventures (the venture capital arm of the world's largest drinks company; Diageo) prepared a white paper study on the new world whisky movement a few years ago. It charts the key drivers of the trends within the category and we found it a valuable resource.