A recent Wall Street Journal report showed that in the United States, vodka is no longer “in vogue.” Instead, it’s fallen out of style as more and more millennials turn to whiskey — specifically bourbon and Tennessee whiskey — for their liquor of choice.

Over the past five years, vodka consumption has declined almost 2% while whiskey has risen 17% in the same period. In the US market specifically, vodka sales dropped 0.3% and whiskey rose 2.7% in the last year alone. Leading the trend are American whiskeys, specifically bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, which clocked in at 7.4% raise in sales.

There has always been a debate between vodka and whiskey, especially when it comes to what women drink. In fact, women are often stereotyped by whether they drink whiskey or vodka.

Whiskey girls considered more “rugged” and vodka girls considered more girly, which can be seen as a trend. But, it goes so far as to stereotype the guys that each girl attracts based on what she drinks. As someone who drinks both whiskey and vodka, it’s a bit troublesome.


Photo courtesy of doctyper on flickr.com

So, why have millennials shifted from vodka to whiskey? It’s not just because whiskey is fine on its own and vodka needs cranberry juice, or the stereotypes between clear liquor and dark liquor.

Asking around, almost everyone that I know over 21 says they don’t like vodka.

One friend of mine told me that as a teenager most people’s parents had vodka, so that’s what you drank until you could buy your own. Then, by the time you turned 21, you were sick of vodka and whiskey has a better flavor.

Another told me that vodka is the easiest thing to get while you’re underage, so when you’re able to buy your own liquor you’ll try other ones until you find what you like. For most millennials, that drink has turned out to be whiskey.


Photo courtesy of Dominick (flickr.com)

But, what else is there? It can’t be just that.

Something I’ve noticed is that college guys go towards rum (rum and cokes), tequila, and whiskey the most out of the liquor choices available for shots or mixed drinks at a bar. Someone has actually said “You’re a man, not a sorority girl. Drink whiskey.”

Now, this is nothing against sorority girls — I know a few who prefer whiskey and can drink men twice their size under the table.

But, that comment shows just how stereotyped it is that only a certain type of girl drinks clear liquor. This might also be why we’ve started to migrate to whiskey — girls don’t want to be stereotyped as a sorority sister and the guys don’t want to be thought of as feminine or weak.


Photo courtesy of Robert S. Donovan (flickr.com)

Yet, it’s not just that. Many people say vodka just doesn’t do it for them–and I have to agree with them. Much like the people I’ve asked, I prefer the taste and feeling that whiskey gives me.

I didn’t really drink other than a couple glasses of wine and beers my parents allowed me to have while in high school and before I was 21. But, even I definitely have shown a preference for whiskey over vodka.

Yes, you can mix vodka with everything, but that’s because it’s not supposed to have a taste. It reminds most people of “high school, bad decisions, and sadness” as it is the cheapest and easiest liquor to get a hold of.

Before you’re 21 you don’t care about the quality of what you’re drinking; when you’ve turned 21 it’s a different story. You either still want something that will get you drunk fast or you want something nice. I, for one, fall into the latter category. If I have to take a shot of something, it’s going to be whiskey because it tastes good on its own.

Whiskey is something you can be snobby about because of how it good it is, if you’re snobby about vodka it’s just not the same. Unlike most liquors, it has a large history and traditions that go with making it. This is why whiskey distilleries are the tourist attractions of the liquor world (i.e. The Bourbon Trail).


Photo courtesy of InnerSpirit (flickr.com)

And perhaps this is why we’ve gone towards whiskey. We’re the craft generation. You go into a grocery store and you’ll find multitudes of beers that aren’t standard anymore. Craft beer stores are popping up everywhere; we have two in Blacksburg alone. Whiskey appeals to our obsession with the handcrafted and not mass-produced.

Here in the US, we’ve gone towards Tennessee whiskey and bourbon, but why? The answer might be simple: price. While good whiskey is expensive in general, but imported whiskey (Irish, Canadian, Scotch, etc.) is even more expensive.

We’re still broke college students after all.