Consumers’ concern about how food and drink impacts their health has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. These concerns include persistent questions about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and suggests that non-GMO ingredients remain a strong differentiator for people interested in consuming products they consider ‘healthier’. In fact, a 2020 Lightfoot/Mintel survey of 2,000 U.S. residents over age 18 found that 47% believe non-GMO foods are healthier than foods containing genetically- modified ingredients.
Like an insistent puppy that won’t stop nipping at your heels, rye whiskey is a relentless competitor to bourbon that doggedly continues to make inroads with consumers. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Rye may be the most ‘American’ of American whiskeys, whose popularity is booming across the U.S. and abroad.
Today’s distillers pay homage to the past. But they aren’t afraid to tweak the age-old art and science behind great whiskey. Case in point: Yeast research.
Yeast is a basic component of all fermented beverages (beer, wine and spirits). Its function is to convert sugars from grains, plants and fruits into ethanol and carbon dioxide. For years, makers of spirits and other beverage alcohols have used strains from a species of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Cerevisiae is preferred for its ability to repress wild microorganisms and efficiently convert sugars, producing consistent alcohol without ‘off’ flavors.
Gin is like an old friend. Reliable, familiar. Supportive of many iterations of the cocktail. Yes, gin is here to stay, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS). In 2020, year-over-year sales of 9-liter cases rose 4.2% to more than 10 million. Revenue to gin suppliers increased 5.9% to $972 million.
“Thanks to the humble juniper berry, gin has a delightful subtle flavor with versatility,” DISCUS says. “America’s thirst for gin lies in the popularity of the many fine cocktails highlighted by the revival of the cocktail renaissance. Gin’s pleasurable taste and versatile flavors make it a perfect base for any classic or complex mixed drink.”
Just 15 years ago, there were fewer than 100 craft distillers in America. Today, there are almost 2,000, creating a global industry valued at more than $7 billion, and growing faster than you can say fermentation. If starting a distillery is your dream, now would be a great time to make it a reality.