Whiskey For Millennials?

Yesterday, I met a person in the whiskey industry not much younger than myself say, “Young people today will not fall for the advertising gimmicks that older generations have. They only respond to honesty and truth and realness” and all I could think was…Of course they do. Just like every young person ever.

Today’s Millennial is just as susceptible to advertising as any generation ever has been. This belief that this generation is different from the hippies that wanted truth and realness (which became what we call baby boomers) or the goths, punks and grungy kids (Gen Xers) that wanted to just be understood and simultaneously left alone by the man is silly. Young people are always the targeted audience by advertisers because they have jobs and money to spend, not to mention social networks that spread their BS for free. New avenues for advertisers are always being explored with the growth of new technologies, but that just opens more opportunities for advertisers to exploit young people’s idealism. There are university degrees in marketing and advertising- What do you think they are learning to do?

Whiskey has had its ups and downs in the marketplace and that is largely due to the public’s perception of it through advertising. An ad might claim that it was good for your health or make you more attractive. You might try it because of an ad’s claim that it is superior to another distilled product or is only meant for someone wealthier and smarter than yourself. Perhaps it will make you more American to drink bourbon or help you connect to your heritage. New brands are designed to appeal to specific demographics. No one wants truth in advertising. And believe me, no one wants to hear that their favorite whiskey company is lying to them. (Even if that is almost ALWAYS the case.)

The truth is that your whiskey isn’t made with the same jug yeast that was used 100 years ago. No, the whiskey is not made with the same recipe that it has always been made with. In fact, the flavor of that bourbon is wildly different from the exact same product/brand as it was made 20 years ago. That old label was redesigned to make you think it is old. There is no such thing as a master distiller (though there are a few remaining old school veterans of the industry) or a whiskey sommelier. That story you heard from the brand rep is not true. No, the mashbill is not that important. Limestone water is not “essential for making whiskey”. There is no law dictating what it means to be single barrel or small batch- That is a marketing gimmick. I could go on and on…The point is that everything that you hear about what makes a whiskey great is constructed by a marketing team. The more you learn about the industry, the more you realize how nice it was to be blissfully ignorant…and young.