Does gender factor into which type of alcohol you prefer? Do women tend to prefer sweeter alcohols?
There are over 350 different flavored vodkas on the market, including flavors like smoked salmon, whipped cream and bubble gum. Though some people will cringe at the more extreme flavors, there is also a growing segment of consumers, often female, who want such creations, especially the sweeter varieties. Other flavored spirits are starting to follow vodka's lead, with a goal of reaching more women. Whiskey is one such category.
In the first quarter of 2012, the fastest-growing spirit category, having risen nearly 155%, is flavored whiskey. The primary targeted market for these flavored whiskies is women. Though recipes for flavored whiskey has actually been around for hundreds of years, it is only recently that it has had any significant impact. Launched in June 2009, one of the first modern flavored whiskys was Jim Beam's Red Stag, a bourbon infused with black cherry. It did very well from the start, selling 85,000 cases its first year. In 2011, it saw a growth over 2010 of about 58%, selling 300,000 cases. Its amazing growth helped to spur on other whiskey makers to produce their own flavored whiskey.
Last year, Jack Daniel's launched its Tennessee Honey and it sold 320,000 cases, a staggering amount for its initial year on the market. Wild Turkey American Honey has seen a growth of 28%, selling 230,000 cases last year. Other companies with flavored whiskies have also seen significant growth this past year. Of the various flavored whiskys, honey has been the most popular flavor, followed by cherry in second place.
In general, women constitute only about 20-30% of whiskey consumers, but that percentage seems to at least double for most of the flavored whiskey brands. So why do women seem to prefer the flavored, and sweet tasting, whiskys over the regular styles of whiskey? It is merely because whiskey has traditionally been seen as a manly beverage? Or do women, in general, have a different palate from men, one which prefers sweeter tastes? Do women prefer sweeter alcohols in all respects, including wine, beer, and other spirits?
From my time working in a wine store, it tends to be the women who seek out sweeter wines. When I visit bars and lounges, it tends to be the women who seek out sweeter cocktails and drinks. There are certainly exceptions and I know some of them, women who enjoy regular bourbon, scotch and other spirits, who prefer to avoid the sweeter variations. But they seem to be the exceptions, not the norm. So I discern a gender difference in alcohol preferences, but I am still curious as to the reason?
Is it biological or cultural? I tend to believe it may be cultural but don't have much evidence to support that theory as of yet. Ladies, care to weigh in on why you prefer sweeter alcohols? Or why you don't prefer them?