Why You Should Be Flavoring Your Whiskey and What Works Best

Why You Should Be Flavoring Your Whiskey and What Works BestWhy You Should Be Flavoring Your Whiskey and What Works Best

Flavoring whiskey is by no means is a new practice; however, with the number of distilleries in the U.S. continuing to grow, as well as the shift in interest as millennials and Gen Z take over the prime buying power in the markets, the opportunity to stand out with a unique and well paired flavor has never been more enticing. 

There are a number of factors, trends, and movements that have all come into alignment to make this the right time to strike out with an expertly crafted, flavored whiskey. 

With the growing number of small-batch, artisanal distilleries, the need to stand out is becoming more and more essential to a brand’s success, perhaps even more so than creating a high-quality product. What good is that carefully crafted whiskey if no one is interested in trying it?

The addition of strategically selected flavors can draw in customers on the basis of novelty, curiosity, or even nostalgia. Another strong draw can be seen with flavors that have a well-known associations with functional benefits like health, immunity, or energy. 

This desire for additional benefits from products is strongly associated with millennial and Gen Z consumers who are less likely to purchase traditional forms of alcohol in the first place. Offering them flavors and ingredients that align with their desire for healthier and more environmentally friendly products will give your brand more appeal over more traditional names that rely on prestige. 

But flavoring whiskey, specifically, presents a number of challenges, the most critical of which is knowing what flavors are naturally present in the whiskey and how to balance that innate flavor profile with the flavors you want to add. Let's take a look first at what impacts the flavor of whiskey itself.

Innate Whiskey Flavors

A whiskey’s flavor comes in part from the ingredients used to brew the white whiskey as it is before barrel aging but far more from the interaction of that white whiskey with the oak of the casks resulting in the complex and rich flavor profiles that are so distinctly whiskey. 

Flavor elements like sweetness, creaminess, pepperiness, and maltiness will be determined by the grain recipe, which is also a key factor in the subtle distinctions between types of whiskey. Another major flavor element common in Scotch whiskey is the smokiness derived from burning peat during malting.

Further along in the process, the strain of yeast used will have an impact on the overall flavor profile, and intentionally selected strains are used to impart their associated flavors. 

Some less obvious environmental factors, collectively referred to as terroir, will also have an effect on the final flavor such as the water that is used throughout the process, what type of material casks and other storage and brewing containers are made of, and even the type of environment the oak trees used to make the casks grew in. 

Because of all of this, the complete flavor profile of any type of whiskey is one that is complex, easily identifiable, and must be taken into consideration when working to infuse other flavors into the spirit.

Adding Flavors

Likely the most important part of determining which flavor to add to a whiskey is knowing which flavors work best with the specific type of whiskey you are making. What you would use in a Bourbon is going to be totally different from an Irish whiskey.

Starting with a look at the original style of whiskey, a Scotch can present with a range of colors and flavors, although, most commonly, a well-aged Scotch will have have taken on some deeper fruity notes like tart, dark berries and cherries as well as citrus notes. If the Scotch has been malted using peat as fuel, the whiskey will take on a distinct smokiness.

Additional tart fruits pair well with the innate fruitiness of Scotch such as apple, lemon, and cranberry. These flavors are in line with the flavors of the Scotch, blending nicely into the overall profile. Alternatively, roasted nut flavors work well to accentuate the smokiness of a Scotch.

With Irish whiskey, the profile is already quite light with touches of vanilla and florals. A well-aged Irish whiskey will begin to present with an oakiness that leans the flavor towards caramel. These sweeter notes present an opportunity to explore gourmand flavors. 

Decadent sweetness also works well with Bourbon as it is naturally sweeter and smoother than other types of whiskey, although, you may prefer to balance that sweetness with warm spicy notes and tangy or tart fruits. 

Rye whiskey, like Scotch, offers a fair amount of variety between brands. On the whole, rye tends to present with a flavor profile full of warm, complex spice. Because of this, rye lends itself to more savory flavors, although you probably wouldn’t have much success with a mustard flavored whisky.

Since rye is also a bread grain, buttery bakery type flavors can work extremely well as can similar spices like cinnamon, ginseng, bitters, and even lemon and honey.

Rely on the Flavor Experts at Renaissance Flavors

No matter what type of whiskey you are looking to flavor or which flavor you want to infuse into it, our team of highly-skilled flavorists can help you create a perfectly paired product that your customers will love. 

In addition to our line of available flavors, our flavorists are also highly adept at creating custom flavor offerings for clients looking to explore new and complex flavor profiles. Put your trust in Renaissance Flavors for your next product and let us wow you.

Contact Canada's flavor company today to spice up your next product with that little extra kick of flavor!

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