Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, beverage alcohol consumers have turned to products with nostalgic flavours as they seek both comfort and indulgence, reports global drinks analysis company, IWSR.

“For many people, pandemic lockdowns amplified aspects of creating coziness,” says Brandy Rand, COO Americas, IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

“Flavours and smells like chocolate chip cookies, fresh-squeezed lemonade or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich bring back the nostalgia of childhood and are simple comforts.”

In the US, IWSR says peanut butter-flavoured whiskey is a trend that has been growing for some time, and has continued at pace throughout the pandemic, albeit from a low base.

Data collected shows that the leading five peanut butter whiskey brands in the US increased sales by more than 250% from 2019 to 2020.

“The peanut butter whiskey trend that has captured consumers’ interest over the past few years has paved the way for dessert inspired whiskey-based indulgences,” says Rand.

“As a flavour, chocolate works well with peanut butter so it’s not a surprise that labels are being approved for chocolate peanut butter whiskey brand lines in the US.

“Other relevant chocolate inspired flavours currently in planning include chocolate mint, original chocolate and dark chocolate banana.”

IWSR says the dessert whiskey trend has so far remained largely confined to the US, but has international potential, particularly as drinks makers create their own iterations inspired by regional flavours.

In RTDs, IWSR says lemonade flavours are satiating consumers’ desire for comfort, while also providing the simple and refreshing taste they crave.

In rum, banana has become a popular flavour trend and in beer, pastry beer is a sub-category that is gaining traction.

Particularly popular in the US and UK, pastry beers initially exploited the rich and dessert-like qualities of stout, with the inclusion of two or more confectionery-inspired adjuncts.

While the trend started with stouts, IWSR says brewers are now experimenting with pastry-flavoured lagers, lighter beer styles, non-alcoholic beers and even pastry-inspired hard seltzers. Evil Twin Brewing for example aims to attract and retain fans of the brand with its pastry-inspired seltzers.

“The taboo of enjoying these sweet, indulgent flavours seems to have waned over the past year, and more brands are likely to release their own nostalgic flavour iterations,” says Rand.

“We’re also likely to see more flavour combinations hit the market, as well as flavours that reflect regional products or desserts.”

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