While vodka remains the leading spirit in the US, a new report shows that a growing thirst for Irish whiskey resulted in the largest increase in its category last year, driven largely by males and Millennials.
According to the latest report by market research group Technomic released this week, though it represents the smallest of 12 categories in the spirits industry, volume share of Irish whiskey recorded the largest increase at 22 percent in 2011.
In an interview with Imbibe magazine last year, spirits expert and author F. Paul Pacult said the growing appeal of Irish whiskey can be attributed to its approachability: "though distinctive and complex enough to satisfy whiskey connoisseurs, the spirit is also gentle and amicable enough for a whiskey novice to get to know," the article reads.
It's a similar sentiment echoed in an article published earlier this year by dude food blog Food Republic, founded by TV celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson.
Unlike Scotch, the writer notes that Irish whiskey sets itself apart as the subtler, smoother spirit.
Other spirits that saw notable increase in volume include tequila, rye and corn whiskey, the report said.
According to consumer insights data, the slight upswing -- spirits now account for 6.4 percent of total alcohol volume, up from 6.1 percent in 2010 -- has been driven largely by male consumers and Millennials, a group which seeks variety and is more likely than any other age group to experiment and try new beverages, the report reads.
Overall, total spirits volume reached nearly 200 million 9-liter cases in the US last year, with vodka leading the charge at 32 percent share of spirits volume.
The site Food Republic offers a primer on the different Irish whiskeys on the market. Their top 10 list of whiskeys to try include Jameson 12-Year-Old Special Reserve, Tullamore Dew 10-Year-Old Single Malt and Bushmills 10-Year-Old Malt.