As the Canadian agency for the Distilled Spirits Council of the USA, it’s our passion and privilege to promote American whiskeys to Canadians. Most of our agency friends know that the partners at Branding & Buzzing love traveling to the USA to experience firsthand the incredible world of food and beverage. It’s one thing to sip whiskey at a Calgary or Toronto bar, but it’s an entirely different and enriching experience to visit a distillery in person.
Through our efforts and collaborations, we aim to share the unique stories, flavours, and traditions of American whiskey with our fellow Canadians. The facts are undeniable: American whiskey is not just a beverage; it’s a journey into history, craftsmanship, and culture that’s best experienced in the heart of its origin.
Innovating Amidst Challenges: Bringing Whiskey to Canadians Virtually
During the pandemic, as Canadians were temporarily banned from traveling to the USA to explore distilleries, our agency swiftly pivoted to adapt to the changing times. We introduced virtual whiskey tastings, where VIPs received curated whiskey kits and food pairings (always enjoyed responsibly). These VIPs logged into an online platform, where they embarked on virtual tours of distilleries, led by the master distillers themselves.
The results were nothing short of remarkable. People not only embraced this novel approach to whiskey appreciation but also clamored for more. It was a testament to the enduring appeal of whiskey and the desire to explore its heritage, even from the comfort of one’s home. This experience illuminated the fact that whiskey tourism is not confined to physical journeys but can be a digital adventure, bringing the world of whiskey to enthusiasts no matter where they are. The ah ha moment was in. people would love to travel to experience whiskey.
Crossing the border for Whiskey
In 2022, the allure of Tennessee’s distilleries reached new heights, firmly establishing them as top tourist attractions in the state. A study conducted by Tourism Economics shed light on this remarkable phenomenon, and the findings were nothing short of impressive.
The Tennessee Whiskey Trail: A Journey Through Flavor
Operated by the Tennessee Distillers Guild, the Tennessee Whiskey Trail has been the driving force behind this surge in whiskey-related tourism. This comprehensive study, commissioned by the Trail itself, uncovered astounding figures: the whiskey industry raked in an astonishing $3.45 billion in revenue, attracting a staggering eight million non-local visitors in the past year alone.
These whiskey pilgrims, in turn, lent their support to a multitude of other industries, injecting a robust $2.05 billion into distilleries and off-site establishments. This spending spree encompassed diverse sectors, including lodging, food and beverage, retail, recreation, transportation, and more. The far-reaching impact of these visitors rippled across the economy, generating employment opportunities for around 30,000 individuals and contributing a substantial $441.1 million in tax revenue.
Crafting Tradition, Crafting Success
The Tennessee Whiskey Trail, founded in 2017, is a remarkable collaborative effort, uniting over 30 distilleries from across the state. Among these renowned brands are household names like Jack Daniel’s, George Dickel, Uncle Nearest, and many others. In a recent article, Mark Ezell, the commissioner at the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, expressed his enthusiasm, saying, “Visitors from around the world make the pilgrimage each year to explore the time-honored craft of Tennessee whiskey. It’s an important driver of tourism, which creates revenue and jobs for all Tennesseans. We are honored to celebrate the industry’s success alongside our partners at the Tennessee Distillers Guild today.”
A Worldwide Whiskey Wanderlust
Interestingly, this trend isn’t unique to Tennessee alone. Distillery tours are making waves worldwide. According to data from the Scotch Whisky Association, 2019 witnessed a staggering 2.2 million visits to Scotch whisky distilleries. It’s clear that the allure of whiskey, its rich history, and the craftsmanship behind it continue to captivate and drive tourism, benefitting both local economies and the global whiskey community. 2024 is fast approaching. Time to think beyond your typical food journey and get on a whiskey trail.