After roughly 10 months of being overly cautious about what I eat and drink, later this month I finally can consume what I want, within reason of course. I’ve missed my ability to eat cold-cut sandwiches and have my morning pick-me-up of green tea, but for the most part, I don’t feel pregnancy caused me to miss too much. However, every so often, a new alcohol beverage will be released that intrigues me. Soon enough, I will be able to indulge my curiosity.

I will admit the new products that have me the most intrigued tend to feature flavor profiles that I’ve developed an affinity for outside of alcohol beverages but now are more prominent in the alcohol sector too. According to a release from Nielsen, I might not be the only one who easily is tempted by flavor.

According to a March release titled “Americans have the fever for flavor: Alcoholic beverages and creative taste profiles,” the market research firm reports that flavor releases are having a positive effect on sales and attracting demographic groups to alcohol segments that these groups might not have been traditional consumers of in the past.

Nielsen reports that mainstream fruits and extracts allow alcohol manufacturers to capitalize on hot trends as they release new flavors and products. As an example, it notes that there were only two pumpkin-flavored beers in the United States in 1995, but as of March 16 of this year, it tracked 80. However, pumpkin is not the only example of this flavor focus.

“Flavors like cinnamon, peach and honey have exploded into the spirits category,” the market research firm reports. “The former now generates more than $200 million annually in Nielsen-measured off-premise (store-bought) channels, and the latter two each generate over $100 million. And to top that, all apple-flavored beers, flavored malt beverages and spirits account for a staggering $350 million of annual sales.”

Expanding upon apple, Nielsen says the hard cider market has seen a large contribution from apple flavors. Although the segment is small, it has significantly seen sales increase. According to Nielsen data, hard cider sales increased from $78 million in 2011 to $470 million for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 3.

Even though mainstream fruit flavors have been popular in many of the beer and spirits segments, the spirits market has pushed the limits beyond traditional flavors to more adventurous ones. Some of those include peanut butter and jelly, salmon, pickle, marshmallow and cake, Nielsen notes. But even if these don’t sound pleasing to your palate, the market research firm says the proof is in the numbers.

“While some win over the palate and some don’t, flavored spirits make up a notable piece of the overall pie,” it reports. “Just more than 20 percent of U.S. vodka sales in Nielsen-measured off-premise channels come from flavors, and flavors have zoomed to represent 12 percent of whiskey sales.”

 However, some flavored spirits might have a short shelf life, so beverage-makers should be cautious about what profiles they plan to bring to retail, the market research firm reports. To read more about flavors in the alcohol market, visit or read our Category Focus article (page 14) on the spirits category.