Friday, August 16, 2013

2 Gingers Irish Whiskey: A Whiskey For Women?

Demand for Irish whiskey has boomed over the last decade, outpacing many other liquor categories. For example, from 2010 to 2011, the volume of Irish whiskey grew nearly 24% and from 2011 to 2012, it grew about another 23%. Compare this to the 3% annual growth of the general spirit category. However, the Irish whiskey category is still relatively small, about 2.2 million cases, while the overall whiskey category is at about 50 million cases.

Interestingly, in the first quarter of 2012, the fastest-growing spirit category, having risen nearly 155%, was flavored whiskey and its primary targeted market is women. Women are seen as a huge potential market for whiskey, though many producers seem to think most women won't drink traditional whiskey. Currently, women constitute about 20-30% of whiskey consumers but that percentage basically doubles for most flavored whiskey brands. However, there appears to be at least one non-flavored whiskey which is appealing to a large percentage of women, 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey.

I received a review sample of the 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey, a blended whiskey which was distilled twice and then aged for four years in used bourbon barrels. Most Irish whiskies are distilled three times, but 2 Gingers wanted to retain more flavor so it only distilled it twice. They also wanted to make their whiskey smoother, so they aged it longer than the usual three years. Their whiskey is produced at the Kilbeggan Distillery and the idea for it was spawned by Kieran Folliard, an Irishman who has spent about 25 years in Minnesota.

Kieran operated several pubs in Minnesota and first debuted his new Irish whiskey there. The name of the whiskey, 2 Gingers, was inspired by his red-headed mother and aunt, Mary and Delia, and their faces grace the bottle label. The 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey costs around $20, for a 750ml bottle, and has been expanding its distribution outside of the midwest and is now also available in Massachusetts. In many of the states where it is sold, it is more popular with women than competing brands. In Minnesota, where the brand started, women constitute about 40% of consumers.

It was Kieran's intention to create an Irish whiskey which would have a broader appeal, trying to reach an audience which usually did not choose whiskey. He wanted to create a "genderless, seasonless whiskey that’s very versatile and approachable." The whiskey is also promoted as an excellent base for a variety of cocktails, such as their Big Ginger, a simple blend of 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey and ginger ale.

What did I think? I found the 2 Gingers to be light, mild and smooth, a whiskey profile which would appeal to a broad audience. It possesses a mild sweetness from the bourbon barrels with hints of vanilla and caramel, complemented by bright citrus notes, especially on the finish. The finish tends to be a bit short, though it is pleasant. Even if you are not a fan of most whiskey, the 2 Gingers might be something you would enjoy. I also made my own version of the Big Ginger, using ginger beer rather than ginger ale, and it was tasty and refreshing, a nice summer drink.

As a light and milder alternative to other whiskies, it is good value at $20, and should reach a wider audience of drinkers, whether on its own or in cocktails. It will appeal to those who dislike some of the harsher tasting whiskies. It is not specifically a woman's whiskey, but rather a lighter, milder Irish whiskey for anyone, man or woman. And a nice cocktail base as well.

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