Sam Simmons - Who Drinks Whisky (Part 2: Age)
When I first got into whisky, I was 26 years old. There had been plenty of Gibsons and Ginger Ales before that, but when I moved to Scotland, whisky stormed into my life in a real way. It feels like a long time ago... I had a full (?) head of hair. I had a student loan. I had two part time jobs. I was not targeted by whisky marketing. Or was I?
Whisky has a higher average age of consumer than most other spirits but this could very well be more down to cost than anything else. While beer, wine, and booze tend to target younger consumers, whisky has always (at least since I’ve been watching) appealed to a mindset or character rather than an individual’s age.
So first, inherited wisdom: Whisky is about discovery and exploration and, ironically, sits at the summit of a progressive journey most consumers venture upon from beer or wine to mixable spirits etc and whisky is a long way down the path of discovery. Some never arrive, but those that do tend to engage strongly.
So the trick for whisky then would be to expedite that journey and get folks onto scotch earlier (enter Monkey Shoulder, Smokehead, etc) but this isn’t a clear marker on the path to heavily peated malt in your crystal tumbler while checking the morning markets in Asia before going to bed. It is not age but mentality that prepares one for whisky.
I have hosted whisky tastings and events around the world since 2005 and I can say with some confidence that that only thing that indicates a whisky drinker is that s/he has whisky in his/her glass. Of the thousands with whom I have engaged over a dram, there is no look, no income level, no sex, no age that they can all generally be said to share. If I had to generalise I would suggest that it is widely true that whisky draws in folks that are curious (all sensed of the word) and kind. And they are anywhere between 20 to 90 years old.