According to alcoholic beverage company Diageo, its Johnnie Walker scotch whisky will be sold in paper bottles early next year. The initiative aims to eliminate plastic waste and comes after years of scrutiny against companies that use plastic packaging. Beverage makers Diaego, PepsiCo, and Unilever have all set goals to reduce plastic use and enhance recycling by 2025 as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals program. The new Johnnie Walker scotch whisky bottle, made in a partnership with venture management company Pilot Lite, will consist of wood pulp and will be fully recyclable, according to Diaego.
While restaurants and sports stadiums remained closed, U.S. beer and soda companies have shifted production from kegs to cans, creating a surge in demand for cans. The resulting supply chain bottlenecks have caused some beverage makers to limit sales of niche products like Cherry Coke Zero and Pibb. “The can industry is working 24/7 on meeting the unprecedented demand,” said Robert Budway, president of the Can Manufacturers Institute, the industry’s trade association. To help fulfill beverage company orders, some of the country’s top can manufacturers are building three new factories within the next 18 months. According to the Aluminum Association, demand for cans had already been increasing prior to the pandemic, as consumers moved away from plastic beverage containers toward those sold in aluminum. Rising sales of newer products like canned wines and hard seltzers have also intensified the need for can manufacturers to step up production.
Researchers from the Penn State Sensory Evaluation Center recently studied 109 beer consumers, mostly in their 30s, about half women and half men, and published their findings in Science Daily. Study subjects took personality tests and then drank blind samples of Budweiser (a mild lager beer), Founder’s All-Day IPA Session Ale (a somewhat bitter ale), and Troeg’s Perpetual IPA (a very bitter ale). Researchers originally theorized that people who taste bitterness more intensely would have an aversion to bitterness and would be more likely to enjoy more mild-tasting beer. However, study results showed the opposite: those who have an acute taste for bitterness crave intense sensations and are more likely to choose bitter beers. “Traditionally, most researchers find that people who experience bitterness more intensely avoid bitter food or drink—so with heightened bitterness, they like it less, and therefore consume it less,” said researcher John Hayes, associate professor of food science at Penn State. “But here, we find that people who seek higher sensations and are more risk-taking, they like bitter beer such as India pale ales, if they also have greater bitter taste perception.” .
Miho Imada of the Imada Shuzo Honten sake company in Hiroshima is the 3<sup>rd</sup> generation toji (brewmaster) and now the 5<sup>th</sup> generation owner to manage the 152-year old company. Before assuming her position as toji, the brewery always outsourced the position, usually to men. Imada initially sidestepped the sake industry, despite being raised in the family-owned brewery, but when she saw domestic sake production declining drastically, she came home from Tokyo at age 33 to study sake-making under the toji in 1994. She succeeded the toji in 2000, then she became managing director at the brewery when her father stepped down in 2018. Imada’s sake has since gained her numerous accolades, including nods at the 2016 Annual Japan Sake Awards, the UK’s 2017 International Wine Challenge, and the 2017 Kura Master in France.
Imada says that 30 years ago most guests at sake tasting events were male, but now there is a greater female presence. Monica Samuels imports Imada’s sake as director of Sake and Spirits at Vine Connections, and adds, “Sometimes I get the feeling that Miho wishes people were interested in more than just her being a woman in the business when they talk to her, but I think she doesn’t realize how much of a role model she is to women who are trying to chase after their career without feeling like they have to live up to society’s expectations.“
U.S. consumers drink about 570 million gallons of liquor, 914 million gallons of wine, and over 6 billion gallons of beer each year. Wondering where your state falls on the booze map? An analysis of recent data from The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that some consumers in some states drink more than others. New Hampshire tops the list for liquor consumption, likely because it has no booze tax. Delaware comes in second, followed by the District of Columbia, and Nevada, due it large part to Vegas casinos and tourism. Those in Vermont consume the least amount of liquor, less than a million gallons per year, quite a bit less than those in California, who consumer an annual 69.1 million gallons. The states consuming the least spirits also include West Virginia, Utah, and Ohio.
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that middle-aged and older adults who drank alcohol in moderation had higher levels of cognitive functioning than those who abstained. Between 1996 and 2008, researchers for the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study tested 19,887 participants on their mental acuity multiple times. Each participant’s cognitive function was tested through vocabulary, word recall, and mental status. Overall, those who consumed one to two drinks a day performed better on all mental acuity tests. Moderate drinking was associated with a better vocabulary and better word recall compared to those who abstained from alcohol. Women made up 60% of the participants with an average age of 61, and 85% were white. About one third (35%) of participants said they drank alcohol, and among those, 85% drank low to moderate amounts.
Iowa has become the first state to convert its temporary law allowing to-go cocktails into a permanent one. Michigan has also extended restaurant and bar sales of cocktails to go through 2025. Legislators in New York, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia say they will likely introduce bills of a similar nature. Alcohol sales often account for about 30 percent of a restaurant’s revenue, and allowing takeout alcohol sales during pandemic lockdowns has been a boon for the struggling restaurant industry. More than 30 states currently allow to-go cocktails from bars and restaurants. Many lawmakers believe the legislation is legalizing permanently to help restaurants survive beyond the pandemic. “Making cocktails to-go permanent provides a much-needed source of stability and revenue for local bars, restaurants and distilleries as they begin to recover,” said Dale Szyndrowski, vice president of state government relations for the Distilled Spirit Council of the United States.
While coconut is often associated with rich and creamy cocktails like the Piña Colada, bartenders are more frequently using coconut water for a lighter, refreshing taste without the heavy texture. Dilution is often the key to a balanced cocktail and coconut water can stand in for plain water. “Coconut water is a great way to make the dilution in a cocktail more interesting without changing the texture of the drink,” says Lost Lake bartender Vince Bright. You can use coconut water instead of plain water to make coconut simple syrup, or it can be frozen into coconut ice cubes or added straight to high-proof rums and whiskeys as a diluting agent. It works particularly well with tropical fruits like mango and pineapple and sits nicely in nut-based cocktails as well. .
Two years ago, the European Union enacted a 25% tariff on U.S. goods as retaliation for U.S. tariffs on European steel and aluminum. To get its point across, the new E.U. tariff specifically targeted iconic American products such as bourbon and other U.S. whiskeys. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States reports that European exports decreased by 33% over the course of the dispute, resulting in $300 million in lost revenue.
Between January 1997 and June 2018, U.S. whiskey exports to Europe shot up from $143 million to more than $750 million, according to Distilled Spirits Council data. To calculate current losses, the Council multiplied projected growth for the year by the 33% drop in European exports. Later this summer, the U.S. Trade Representative office will consider additional tariffs on imported European wine, spirits, and food products such as coffee, olives, chocolate, and vodka, likely escalating the trade war further. .
When Blanton’s Single Barrel bourbon debuted in 1984, whiskey expert Fred Minnick said, “[It] was a domestic flop. In fact, the only thing positive about Blanton’s was its popularity in Japan.” That popularity among the Japanese was completely intentional. When Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T. Lee originally described the soft caramel and vanilla flavor profile for the new Blanton’s Single Barrel bourbon, he didn’t even anticipate that the liquor would be sold to American drinkers. Blanton’s was aimed squarely at the Japanese palate and was specifically created for the Japan market by Lee and liquor executives Ferdie Falk and Bob Baranaskas.