Over the past decade, flavored whiskey has gone from a small whiskey subcategory to a rapidly growing key sales driver. Mainstays like Fireball, along with SKUs from large whiskey brands like Crown Royal and Jack Daniel’s, are now joined by upstart companies experimenting with new flavor combinations. 

Today, retailers can rely on recognizable name brands to bring customers in, while new flavors keep the category interesting for consumers.

A Quickly Growing, Entry-Level Whiskey Category

A report from the IWSR found that total alcohol sales rose the highest percent year-over-year in the United States since 2002, and the spirits category alone rose the highest percent year-over-year since 1990. The report found that flavored subcategories are top consumer drivers—including flavored whiskey.

According to Market Watch, more than 16 million cases of flavored whiskey were sold in the United States in 2020, compared to less than two million cases 10 years ago.

On Drizly, flavored whiskey grew to a 6.4 percent share of the whiskey category in 2021 to date, compared to a 5.5 percent share at this same period in 2020, and a 4.8 percent share in 2019. That’s 1.6 percentage points of growth, or 33 percent, over the past two years.

The growth has been in volume rather than dollars. Whiskey subcategories like Japanese whisky and Scotch have seen a shift toward premiumization that’s driving an increase in the average unit price over the past year. However, flavored whiskey, as well as American and Irish whiskey, have maintained a relatively flat average unit price year-over-year, says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights.

The flavored whiskey subcategory has an average unit price of $14 on Drizly, compared to $37 for the overall whiskey average unit price. 

Flavored Whiskeys to Pay Attention to

On Drizly, the top-selling brands that make flavored whiskey were the same in 2021 as they were in 2020. The list includes brands that only focus on the subcategory, such as Fireball and Skrewball, as well as large whiskey brands with flavored whiskey SKUs like Crown Royal and Jack Daniel’s.

Drizly’s Top-Selling Flavored Whiskey Brands, 2021 to Date (and Same Time Period 2020)

  1. Fireball
  2. Crown Royal
  3. Skrewball
  4. Jack Daniel’s
  5. Wild Turkey
  6. Jim Beam
  7. Ole Smoky
  8. Evan Williams
  9. Bird Dog Whiskey 
  10. Sheep Dog

Fireball, the leading flavored whiskey brand, has taken a bigger position in the top 10 flavored whiskey SKUs sold on Drizly in 2021 to date. Two Fireball SKUs made the top 10 this year in addition to the traditional bottle size: the Fireball Sleeve (a 10-pack of 50-milliliter minis) and the Fireball Party Bucket (a bucket that comes with 20 minis).

Flavored whiskey is an outlier when it comes to packaging variations making the top-selling SKUs on Drizly. “This is unique, particularly within the whiskey category, where traditional bottle formats dominate across all other subcategories like bourbon and Scotch,” says Paquette. 

Drizly’s Top-Selling Flavored Whiskey SKUs, 2021 to Date

  1. Fireball Cinnamon Whisky
  2. Crown Royal Regal Apple Flavored Whisky
  3. Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
  4. Crown Royal Peach Flavored Whisky
  5. Crown Royal Vanilla Flavored Whisky
  6. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire Flavored Whiskey
  7. Fireball Sleeve
  8. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple Flavored Whiskey
  9. Wild Turkey American Honey
  10. Fireball Party Bucket

Drizly’s Top-Selling Flavored Whiskey SKUs, 2020

  1. Fireball Cinnamon Whisky
  2. Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
  3. Crown Royal Regal Apple Flavored Whisky
  4. Crown Royal Peach Flavored Whisky
  5. Crown Royal Vanilla Flavored Whisky
  6. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire Flavored Whiskey
  7. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple Flavored Whiskey
  8. Wild Turkey American Honey
  9. Jim Beam Vanilla Bourbon Whiskey
  10. Crown Royal Salted Caramel Flavored Whisky

Who’s Drinking Flavored Whiskey?

Flavored whiskey consumers tend to trend younger than the average share of people who use Drizly. Gen Z is an especially notable group. The age demographic has an eight percent share of flavored whiskey sales on Drizly, compared to having only three percent overall share of sales on Drizly. Millennials are responsible for a 56 percent share of flavored whiskey sales (versus a 60 percent overall share), Gen X a 28 percent share (compared to a 29 percent overall share), and baby boomers a seven percent share (compared to an eight percent overall share).

This division is similar to another flavored spirit category: flavored vodka. Gen Z accounts for a nine percent share of flavored vodka sales on Drizly, Millennials a 48 percent share, Gen X a 34 percent share, and Baby Boomers a nine percent share.

Looking Ahead at the Evolving Flavored Whiskey Market

Cinnamon, apple, peach, and honey have historically been the top selling flavored whiskey varieties. However, there’s a growing market for less traditional flavors as well.

“As well as cinnamon, we also recommend keeping an eye on trends in this category for new popular flavors that emerge, as peanut butter did a couple of years back with the rise of Skrewball,” says Paquette.

The top 10 fastest-growing flavored whiskeys on Drizly year-over-year show a mix of upcoming flavors.

Drizly’s Fastest-Growing Flavored Whiskey SKUs

  • Yukon Jack Fire
  • Sacred Stave CaraMellow Salted Caramel Whiskey
  • Jim Beam Orange Bourbon
  • Bird Dog Peanut Butter Whiskey
  • Ballotin Chocolate Mocho Whiskey Cream
  • Cold Spell Whisky Intense Mint
  • Rich & Rare Peach Whisky
  • Fireball Cinnamon Whisky Candy Cane
  • Ballotin Peanut Butter Chocolate Whiskey
  • Starlight Blackberry Whiskey

In the future, Julia Watson, brand director at Sazerac, which owns Sheep Dog Peanut Butter Whiskey, says consumers can expect to see more flavors outside of options like cinnamon and apple.

“Consumers are more open to trying different flavors and taste profiles within the flavored whiskey category, which is leading to more innovation and differentiation in the space,” she says. Watson adds that the flavored whiskey category as a whole has “grown tremendously as more consumers discover and try different flavored whiskey offerings.”

This is true for rising SKUs on Drizly like Jim Beam Orange Bourbon and Fireball Cinnamon Whisky Candy Cane. It’s also true for brands making a range of flavored whiskey special releases, such as Tamworth Distilling’s Eau de Musc (made with beaver castoreum), The Deerslayer (made with venison), and Bird of Courage, which is flavored with Thanksgiving food like apples, cranberries, corn, sage, and roasted turkey.

“The best part about the whiskey business is that there’s still so much room for experimentation and innovation,” says JD Recobs, the co-founder of Misunderstood Whiskey, which is an 80-proof, ginger-flavored blend of American whiskeys. 

“Consumers have become more curious and willing to step out of their comfort zones over the past few years, which is why we’re so excited to continue innovating and creating spirits that are fun, accessible, and delicious,” he adds. “People will always have their ‘go-to’ brands, but we’re seeing a wave of new consumers venture into the whiskey category and we’re thrilled to have them.”