HOW WHISKY BECAME A GAME NIGHT DRINK

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Game Day is one of those days in a year when schismatic opinions tend to divide sports lovers into groups. But then, there’s one thing that can loosen the firmly knitted team alliances and promote a sense of unity and it’s none other than booze.

It’s obvious, the fervour to watch the Falcons taking on the Patriots does not seem to be totally appeased until the appetite gets its dose of some prolific Sunday Funday Super Bowl food and drink. While there’s a lot that people do to romp up a classic game night food menu, the majority of them do not brainstorm much when it comes to selecting a drink. They are obliged or perhaps to some extent, convinced to embrace their favourite brew which yells crudeness – something that popular ads and pop culture has widely epitomized with sports. 

But, times are changing. Beer as a game night drink is no more a ‘de-riguer’. And, it’s the classic brown elixir of life which is all set to make the cut - reigning the preferences of Millennials who are proving to be the major myth busters. Whisky, as a part of its very nature, breeds exclusivity and for young game buffs who prize sophistication and luxury that has to be an ideal draw.

Whisky making a ‘Touchdown’

The National Football League recently lifted its prohibition on the game-time liquor ads. In fact, it even clarified on specific pointers as to what was acceptable for a specific liquor commercial. Records show that the liquor ads were entirely debarred from mainstream television until 1996. However, NFL sustained the ban, with the exception of beer ads, until this year. Now, this evidently raises a question- Why end a long sustained ban, now?

Well, the answer lies in the growing demand for whisky which is being expediently triggered by a host of factors. 

A growing category of crafts spirits, perceptive marketing, booming cocktail culture and rising interest from women and Millennials are gradually opening the clogged gateways that once pushed whisky to the sidelines. And, this is influencing the NFL owners to break away from their almost two decade-long moral compunction and try out ways to scoop up a few more dollars out of a thriving industry.

With time, an increasing number of consumers are turning their back against the beer industry to consume more liquor. In fact, liquor sales has not just sneakily cut through the market share of beer, for seven straight years now, it has also started making an impact on the game night drink preferences among people.

Millennials - The Key Differentiator

The rising preference of whisky as a game night drink can very well be accredited to the Millennials, who invariably serve as a major differentiator within the overall game night viewer demographics. For them, life’s too short to drink bad alcohol and the same applies for their game night moment. A recent Nielson survey on Alcohol, shows that a major share of  Millennials are rejecting mass marketed alcohol beverages, fuelling the acceptance of ‘artisanal’, ‘handcrafted’, ‘single malt’ and ‘small batch’ whiskies. This advocates the fact that Millennials are propelling two crucial trends for whisky manufacturers- innovation and premiumization. This demographic, with a comparatively better pay scale is counting more on quality, thereby bolstering sales for several premium whisky brands in various categories during game events.     

It would be too hyperbolic to suggest that this penchant for value often translates to brand loyalty, considering the fact that Millennials mostly tend to be fickle. They seek innovation, variety and flavour and this is where whisky has managed to live up to their expectations. With a range of both classic and contemporary cocktails, on top of variants like rye, bourbon and Scotch, whisky predominantly offers more option than any other alcoholic beverage.

As young whisky drinkers clamour for more diversity in flavours, more than ever, it is the sports bars that are coming forward with intriguing whisky-food combos and events to keep up with the demand. Some are even going a step ahead to offer custom whisky cocktails on the basis of mascots, colours, squad nicknames and players. Whether it is regular season games, playoffs or pre-season scrimmages, these joints are hosting an entire range of whisky-based drinks that are perfect for a pigskin party.

Bonding over a dram of whisky during Super Bowl or any such game events whatsoever, is no more a scornful sin; rather it’s becoming a welcome respite for people.  However it doesn’t necessarily imply that people have stopped loving beer. People still adore craft beer and they are going to bring it back to craft whiskies, as well, because true flavours have no alternative- be it from a sip of whisky or beer, it doesn’t really matter!

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