Stir in one part candy store, one part alcohol, and a splash of cocktail risk-taking. For many vodka producers, this is a recipe for success, as they seek to capture the American consumer and draw attention to their brands through creative new flavors.
Flavored vodka accounts for approximately 27 percent of leading brand vodka volume, and continues to grow in popularity as total vodka sales also increase, according to market research firm Technomic.
In 2011, David Ozgo, senior vice president of economic and strategic analysis at the industry’s trade group, the Distilled Spirits Council, counted 115 different flavors in the vodka market.
"They included everything from the basics, like orange, vanilla, and lime, to the more exotic: ginger, pepper, horseradish, bacon, and wasabi," Ozgo said. "Such flavors allow trained mixologists and at-home bartenders alike to develop new and interesting cocktails."
Brand marketers use new flavors to drum up press coverage for their companies and to keep their brands top-of-mind for bartenders when they’re mixing up new cocktails, said Donna Hood Crecca, Technomic’s senior director in the adult beverage resource group.
"There are some really wild new flavors coming out, and a lot of them relate to very sweet flavor profiles, which is different from a few years ago," Crecca said. Before, the focus was on more savory flavors.
Today’s top three best-selling vodkas are all sweet: Pinnacle Whipped Cream, Absolut Citron, and Smirnoff Raspberry, Crecca said.
Read ahead to read about some of the most unusual vodka flavors on the shelves.
— Katie Little, CNBC.com
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