No matter what your beverage of choice is, consumers are at no loss for options. As SKU proliferation continues to grow, consumers welcome new brands, formats and flavors. One segment that has experienced the benefits of flavor trends is the spirits category — particularly vodka.

According to Chicago-based Technomic’s “Special Trends in Adult Beverage (TAB) Report: Vodka Category Close-up,” flavored vodka experienced a 23.3 percent gain in total U.S. vodka volume in 2011, which propelled the segment to account for more than one-quarter of total U.S. vodka volume in that time period. Flavored vodka increased by 3.3 million 9-liter cases in 2011 to rank among the fastest-growing segments of the spirits industry, the report reveals.

“With flavors ranging from citrus to peanut butter and jelly, and entries available in all price points, flavored vodka truly offers something for everyone,” said Eric Schmidt, director of research for Technomic’s Adult Beverage Resource Group, in a statement. “Innovation around flavors is non-stop, which means suppliers are keeping consumers engaged by constantly bringing new offerings to the marketplace. Flavored vodka is one of the most dynamic categories in spirits today, and is growing in both the retail and on-premise channels due to its approachable and highly mixable positioning.”

According to Chicago-based Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), 17 flavored vodka products were released in 2011 in the United States. In comparison, a GNPD search found that 12 flavored vodka products were released between January 2012 and September 2012 in the United States. Both searches included cocktails that contained vodka.

Technomic’s report found that raspberry and citrus were the most popular flavors, and the sweeter profiles gained much traction — particularly whipped cream flavor, which was the No. 3 ranked flavor in terms of volume. Also, all leading flavored vodka portfolios grew in 2011, and Pinnacle’s Whipped Cream Vodka grew 324.5 percent to become the leading flavored vodka brand, the report noted.

Flavor in the spirits category also is having a positive impact on cocktails at on-premise locations. According to research released in August from Mintel Menu Insights, some seasonal and fruity favorites curried favor during the summer months. Research notes that menu offerings of mojitos have increased 32 percent since 2009, while mai tais and Margaritas are up 18 percent and

24 percent, respectively, on menus. Mintel did note that piña coladas and daiquiris showed a decrease of 28 percent and 19 percent, respectively. However, classic cocktails overall have increased 76 percent since 2009.

 Whether it’s flavored vodka or on-premise cocktails, it seems as though the spirits category has been filled with innovation in the last year.