What Are You Drinking, Part 1

liqourama_logo_02Most of us have our favorite places to shop. The reasons are plenty: convenience, location, inventory, prices, specials and the people who work there.

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, I’m a big fan of Liquorama in Upland, and for all of the aforementioned motivations. The employees are great and offer tremendous insights about a variety of their products, and I’ve often found brands at Liquorama that I couldn’t find at the bigger stores like BevMo and Total Wines and More. Of course, the other stores also have their own selection brands that you don’t see elsewhere.

Liquorama owner John Solomon took a little time with me to share his thoughts about distilled liquor.liquorama

“Spirit consumption has shifted to premium brands. The category is very healthy,” he said. “Consumers are drinking less, but they are drinking better.”

He noted that people also are more educated about quality products because of the Internet, social media and bloggers.

“Brown goods have seen an aggressive resurgence in the last 3-5 years. Specifically, bourbon, single malts, rye whiskey and a bit of premium rum.”

One of the guys working at the store told me separately, without hesitation, “bourbon is by far the biggest thing right now.”

With respect to rye whiskey, which had almost vanished from stores but has regained popularity again, John said, “I believe it is part of the cycle. People today take the approach of ‘don’t drink bourbon like your dad, but instead try rye like grandpa.’ It’s also part of the education that is taking place in our industry. Consumers now understand that bourbon is made with corn, wheat and rye, along with all of the different oak cask variations.”

John commented that vodka is still the distilled liquor category leader, while products like Fireball flavored whiskey continue to grow and Jagermeister is the shooter category leader.

“Customers really enjoy trying all of the small batch gin and vodkas, as well as getting creative with the wide variety of mixers now available.”

Solomon noted that flavored spirits are also doing well. “Fireball (whiskey) is probably the hottest item of the year. Flavors are trending very well and will continue to hold a significant place in the future. They are not a one-hit wonder. Flavored whiskey and moonshines are really hot right now.

John offered several recommendations at various price points:liquorama 7

  • Jose Cuervo Cinge Cinnamon Tequila ($16.99)
  • Jagermeister Cinnamon and Vanilla Blend ($18.99)
  • Lock, Stock and Barrel Limited Release 13-year-old Rye (very limited) ($114.99)
  • Grand Marnier Signature Collection No. 2 Raspberry Peach Liqueur ($39.99)
  • Bols Natural Yoghurt Liqueur ($15.99)
  • Bertina Elderflower Liqueur ($24.99)

Stay tuned for more with John Solomon in future editions of Sips, Suds and Spirits.

2 thoughts on “What Are You Drinking, Part 1

  1. I stand corrected… I listed the Dirty Tequila as a product of Jose Cuervo. But it’s not. It is a limited-distribution product called Dirty Tequila (www.dirtytequila.com) that is infused with cinnamon, pineapple and other fruit flavors. I had a taste at Liquorama, mixed with a bit of Rose’s Lime Juice, and it was fabulous… Liquorama in Upland is the only place around carrying it…Even though I’m not a tequila guy, I definitely recommend it.

  2. Some Kentucky bartenders educated me on some of the better bourbons over the course of 2.5 years. I had one bartender tell me that Makers Mark isn’t bourbon because it doesn’t have rye. Some might find that a bit draconian, but every Kentuckian is an abassador of bourbon and each will go out of his (and her!) way to educate everyone. Bourbon is essentially the state economy and they know it.

    Woodford Reserve, Eagle Rare, and Rock Hill are my stand-bys. And if you can afford a bottle of 20-year Pappy Van Winkle’s, I highly recommend a snort or two.

    If you ever get the opportunity, visit the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky. Just make sure your liver’s in shape.

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