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« A Pair of Alchemists | Main | Tastings Tonight! »
Thursday
May032012

The Next Big Thing For Booze

What could will be the next big thing for the booze industry? People ask me this question on a weekly basis.  In fact, I get asked this question so much that I've been thinking about starting a booze consulting business on the side.  $500 dollars for 15 minutes, Diageo!  I'm ready.  In all seriousness, the next big thing for booze is already in the works.  It's already waiting in the wings.  You don't need to ask me.  Every distillery in the U.S. knows what it is and I'll bet my bottom dollar there's a secret room at every one of them loaded with experiments containing it.  I've heard talk about it for years - in side conversations and jokes that aren't really jokes.  It's not a matter of making it, it's a matter of being allowed to make it.  The process just needs to be legalized and then....God help us.

The ban on absinthe in the United States had lasted for decades until 2007 when the moratorium came and the law on wormwood was finally changed.  St. George distillery in Alameda was ready for that one.  As soon as that ban was lifted, they became the first distillery in the U.S. to release a legal absinthe since God knows when.  Being first to release an alcoholic product that the country is excited for is a very big deal.  People will buy it whether it's good or bad because it's the first.  Luckily for St. George, their absinthe was and continues to be among the best, so they were able to lockdown some brand loyalty right from the get go.  To this day, we sell three times as much St. George absinthe than any other absinthe on the shelf.

The ban on marijuana in the United States continues, however.  We were very close to a possible legalization in California recently, but that movement seems to have stalled.  While there continues to be a general leniency towards medical usage, we're still a ways from full-blown legalization.  Nonetheless, I can promise you that the next big trend for booze will be marijuana-infused products.  Once that day comes, the day when the government finally decides that marijuana can be more profitable as a taxable commodity, the day that D.C. lobbyists line up to get the jump on a new billion-dollar industry, we're going to be seeing marijuana-infused everything, and I can guarantee you that there are a ton of producers out there who want to be ready when that happens.

I can already see it now. Absinthe and gin with weed finally listed as one of the botanicals!  Herbal liqueurs with actual herb in it!  And the cocktails!  The Stony Negroni!  The Lazy Manhattan!  If you think this isn't already being done privately all over the continent then you're fooling yourself.  I can promise you that there are plenty of projects in the works right now by companies who want to be the first to release. You can even cater to the geeks by indicating who grew the marijuana, whether it was organic or not, and you can make different gins with different types of weed for those looking to learn about different varietals!  The possibilities are freaking endless and the money will be there in droves.  People of the booze industry looking to get rich, hear me now: you had better be ready for the legalization of marijuana, whether it's in five years or twenty five years.  It will change the liquor industry the way caffeine changed the energy drink industry.  We may not talk about it on this blog, but people are still drinking Red Bull and vodka every day in every city across the country.  Caffeine and booze continues to be very profitable for a number of companies.  I can only imagine the possible profits when marijuana finally comes into play.

Just a few thoughts for your morning.  Diageo, this one's on the house.

-David Driscoll