You know what really grinds my gears? Whisky for Millennials.
First of all, let’s find out who exactly is this alien population that everyone likes to refer to now as the “millennials”, you know, those immature demanding kids…
“The term Millennials is usually considered to apply to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. The precise delineation varies from one source to another, however. Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of the 1991 book Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, are often credited with coining the term. Howe and Strauss define the Millennial cohort as consisting of individuals born between 1982 and 2004“ (read more)
Here we go, if you’re a millennial in 2017, you can be 13 to 35… Here’s why I first think this term and all “tendencies” and “definitions” attached to millennials are wobbly. Especially when it comes to whisky. I had never had a dram in my life when I was 13, I got pissed on Jack Daniel’s & William Peel when I was 18, I started growing an appreciation for fine whisky when I was 21 and by the time I’ll be 35, I’ll probably be a hell of a snob only sipping fancy Rob Roys & Manhattans in a Chesterfield at a 5-star hotel bar.
But let’s still have a look at some statements I read this year in different articles refering to “Millennials” & their whisky drinking preferences.
“Regarding those slippery millennials in particular, Desoulin offered some telling observations about the youngest demographic of drinking age and how they interact with whiskey: “They’re kids, and kids like candies. It’s got to be sweet, super-fruity, and light in the body. They don’t want to think about it too much—that’s their attention span. It’s got to seduce them quick, they’re not looking for depth.” (read more)
#FacePalm… When reading that, I feel like I’m born in the 1960s. Well, guess what, I’m a child of the 1990s, what people like to refer now as a “millennial”. I didn’t have a clue Nirvana existed when Kurt Cobain passed away because I was 4 years old, I grew-up wearing plastic chockers, hideous platform shoes (any reference to current fashion trends would be incidental…) & worshipping the Spice Girls.
I can perfectly understand, that, from a marketing point of view, you need to put people into categories to design specific products meant to appeal to them (even if a bunch of marketers keep arguing segmentation & demographics aren’t relevant anymore but that’s not the debate). But hey, if you consider a 21-year-old chap running into a bar as a kid, there’s something wrong from the beginning (the article being from an American website, customers the bartender is refering to have to be of legal drinking age, so let’s assume they’re at least 21). Anyway, don’t you think there’s a huge gap here between the all “education is key” trend and this declaration? Does that make sense to spend $$$ teaching whisky appreciation to newbies through ambassadorial programs and then go “they need a marshmallow-flavoured whisky”, yes John McMarketing, it makes sense, let’s design a bonbon whisky to appeal to them while we’re trying to convey a completely different message at the same time!
“it’s got to be light”? So you’re saying millennials do not have a taste (their palate is probably too fragile :o) for bold, heavy, rich or bitter drinks? Can someone explain the success of all the heavily-hopped IPAs, fancy complex cocktails, bitter G&Ts & the famous “I want the peatiest whisky you’ve got in stock man“ (when walking into a bar and asking the barman for a drink). From my perspective, I see more and more people going for the “real stuff”, they don’t want half the experience anymore, they want it all, and they want it now.
Generally speaking, I feel like our generation seems to be attracted by the extremes: extreme sport, extreme violence, extreme music… From a young age. I don’t see why our drinking habits would be an exception to the rule and why we’d go “oh well Nathan, let’s have a marshmallow-flavoured whisky, you know I like things sweet and light, and you know me, I like to take things slow, so maybe, if I like it, I could try something bolder“. No guys, that doesn’t happen. When I got friends over, the first thing they want to taste is an Octomore, even when they’ve never enjoyed drinking whisky. Or maybe that’s just me having weird friends…
I’m of course not saying lighter whiskies aren’t “the real stuff”, don’t get me wrong here, I particularly enjoy light, fruity, summery whiskies, I just don’t believe it should be only considered as an entry drink, then despised by connoisseurs over richer & more complex nectars. Some light whiskies are truly delicious and it would be a shame anyone would ever consider those the way most whisky enthusiasts now see cheap night-club-friendly whiskies.
Discussing a new release designed for Millennials, here’s what you can read on The Tasting Table: “The silky, blended whisky is pale in color and tastes of “gentle almond and grapefruit accents,” making it easier to drink.” – You meant “boring” right? We’re probably the most creative, innovative & adventurous generation since a long time, don’t you think we deserve better than a flat, lifeless drink? We want our taste buds challenged, we want emotion, we want fun and we surely don’t want boring 😉
We all know there are plenty of different ways to get people into whisky and attract new drinkers, younger drinkers, so try and see further than the tip of your nose.
Ok, reading all those articles, I always feel like there’s this ONE thing they don’t get, this one thing that would truly define “millennials” to me: their desire not to be labelled, put into molds and describe as a group, an homogeneous entity. Individualities are more than ever celebrated within younger generations and the “me” seems more important than the “us”. Well, we may be all singing the praises of the sharing economy, we still have this intrinsic need to feel unique & special. No wonder why some of us get tattooed, dye their hair in baby pink or wear wooden bow ties (oh, this last one doesn’t make you special, just a twat :)).
I probably got a bit carried away with this article… Don’t even know if it really makes sense in the end, but I’m a millennial, I don’t give a sh*t about rules, that’s what “we” do right?
Cover Pic: lsnglobal.com