The whiskies and trends to watch in 2024 – according to the experts

The whiskies and trends to watch in 2024 – according to the experts

Our Whisky Magazine contributors give their thoughts on the distilleries, spirits, and topics that they think will come to the forefront in 2024

News | 30 Dec 2023

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As we approach a new year, it is a good time to reflect on the recent developments in whisky – and to look ahead to the changes and industry movements we could see in the coming months. Here, some of our expert contributors give their thoughts – from European whisky and 'distillery character' to the revival of traditional production methods. 

Harry Brennan

Villa de Verda is the newest distillery to release whisky in Italy, located in the same region of Italy as almost every other whiskymaker in the country (Sud Tirol / Adige). Its four expressions of 'inQuota Mountain Whisky' include a rye whisky and three NAS single malts, aged in Amarone, Passito (a wine from the tiny Mediterranean island of Pantellaria), and Dolomite Spruce casks respectively. Very unique!

 

Also one to watch for Italy in 2024 is Strada Ferrataa new distillery near Milan. Not only is it located in a different part of northern Italy, but it has a more modern / hipster feel to it than the others, in line with newer urban distilleries across Europe such as Copenhagen Distillery or the Distillerie de Paris. Its first whisky is coming in 2024, and it has released some samples of young spirit as 'On the Way'.

 

The Manx Whisky Company has just released its first batch – the first-ever Manx whisky, a cask strength single malt made with floor malted barley and a tiny Pedro Ximénez cask. It should be interesting to see more from them as subsequent batches are released.

 

In the Welsh Wind is a new Welsh distillery whose first whisky is supposed to be released in 2024. Its big USP is local floor-malted Welsh barley and using some green barley in its mash. 

 

The Chamberick in the Netherlands is a small distillery built in a Dutch farmhouse which will be releasing its first whisky next year, adding to the range of small Dutch distilleries on the up at the moment.

 

Quevall Licors is the first whisky maker in Catalonia, located in the town of Llança, close to the French border. Distillerie La Canya already makes whisky which is labelled as 'Catalan whisky' because it's a) made by two Catalan brothers and b) located in Argeles sur Mer, a town in Roussillon which is only a few miles north of Catalonia and historically Catalan. No whisky has been released from Catalonia itself yet, but Quevall should become the first in 2024.

Maggie Kimberl

In 2024, we are going to see a slight contraction in ultra-premium spirits as folks look for readily available mid-price brands. Whisky geeks are going to be looking to spend money on high-end experiences rather than on simply collecting bottles, and fill-your-own experiences are going to be a great middle ground for this.

Jacopo Mazzeo

In the upcoming year, the worldwide whisky scene will witness further evolution, with the emergence of new producing countries and an ongoing trend in classic whisky-making regions to adopt more experimental approaches.

 

Asia will continue to be a central focus, building on the momentum generated by this year's debut of single malt releases in South Korea and Singapore, complemented by the establishment of new distilleries in China.

 

But one of the most exciting countries to watch in 2024 is in Europe. Specifically, Italy is slowly giving birth to an exciting new whisky industry by capitalising on its rich distilling and winemaking heritage, and craft brewing expertise. Next year will see a range of new Italian whisky launches, including the anticipated inaugural release of Strada Ferrata (refer to issue 183 of Whisky Magazine for more details on this project).

Millie Milliken

Distillery character: Two words we're going to be becoming more acquainted with in 2024. This year has already seen, in my experience, more and more distilleries focusing on what sets them apart beyond the barrel in a drive to focus more on method, raw materials, new-make character, and more. It's an interesting, semantic gear change that I for one am exciting about seeing evolve.
Port of Leith: 2024 is set to be the year that PoL starts producing. A trip a few weeks back saw them at what seemed like the brink of beginning to turn the stills on and, while we will still be waiting for whisky, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on some new make to see what the scope might be when we finally get to try it out of barrel.
Independent bottlers: There seems to have been an influx of new indie bottlers popping up on the market and I'm excited to see what new ways these businesses are engaging with distilleries and communicating the liquid they get their hands on to consumers. The independent bottler feels like it is having a closer connection to consumers these days and pitched right, they will be the perfect bridge for getting new whisky buyers excited about the category.
Transparency: More and more brands (especially new ones, like English whiskies) are being more transparent about their liquid, on provenance, process, etc. It's a move that has paid dividends for the likes of Nc'nean, East London Liquor Co., Bruichladdich, Compass Box, and Waterford, so I wonder if hero brands will begin to be a bit more transparent to keep up with the requisites of the 2024 consumer.

Peter Ranscombe

Turning up the heat on net zero: It may not sound sexy, but expect to hear a lot more about heat during 2024. If the Scotch whisky industry has any hope of hitting its 2040 net-zero target then distilleries need to recover the heat that's being produced when they're making Scotch. Reusing heat will help to cut down on distilleries' fuel bills – whether it's fuel oil, gas, electricity, or even hydrogen in some remote locations in years to come. The equipment can be expensive to buy, so expect the big players to lead the way, with new sites likely to include heat recovery apparatus as standard.

Kristiane Sherry

A move away from cask finishing: I think a lot of us are getting a little fatigued by the plethora of very bold cask finishes coming through. Many are very good, but others can feel a bit gimmicky, or the character of the whisky itself can get lost. I expect there to be a return to distillate-forward expressions, with a focus on things like yeast, distillation – basically other ways to impart flavour. The good finishes will stand the test of time, but I do think some of the more esoteric ones will become less popular.
The peat conversation and more exploration into other ways to get that smoky flavour in Scotch: Obviously a lot of these go against the existing technical file, but as the sustainability conversation rightly continues to heat up, I think there will be increased discussion about ways to 'hack' that distinctive flavour without doing quite so much environmental damage. This could take many forms, from championing wood-smoked releases to looking at sourcing peat that's being dug up anyway – perhaps in a construction context. I think as more drinkers wake up to this, the environmental impact of peat will become more of a talking point.
World whisky gets taken increasingly seriously: Again absolutely not a new trend, but I think lingering misconceptions that world whisky isn't 'good' will continue to dissipate. I think huge advances in Chinese distilling will only accelerate this trend. Great whisky can be made anywhere, and more people will get on board with the category.

Gavin Smith

'Back to the future': Already we are seeing even big beasts like Diageo getting involved in regenerative agriculture programmes, as well as many smaller independents – think Arbikie, Burnobennie, and Waterford. Attention to the custodianship of the actual land looks sure to be a feature of the future in terms of distillers, and is a natural progression from existing environmental/sustainability aims an achievements. 
Linked with the above is the increasing preoccupation of a number of smaller distillers with harking back to the use of heritage grains, brewers' yeasts, and even production methods. The work to be done by distillers in relation to the reprinted 1920s Distillation of Whisky book, as per previous emails and possible 2024 feature, highlights this. Distillers such as Dornoch already practice 'old-school' methods, designed to maximise character rather than yield, and Port of Leith is into yeast experimentation.
Floor malting is looking sexy again, with Glen Garioch apparently pleased with the results it is getting since reinstating its maltings and the new Dunphail distillery near Forres also has floor maltings. 
Direct firing could be pretty popular, too, with Dornoch, Dunphail, and The Cabrach distillery – opening early 2024, I think – all opting for direct-fired stills, while Glen Garioch is a great example of a long-established distillery returning to direct firing for more characterful and gutsy spirit.
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