During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, beverage alcohol consumers have turned to products with nostalgic flavor as they seek both comfort and indulgence, experts note. Although this trend has manifested in a number of drinks categories, peanut butter-flavored whiskey is a trend that has been growing for some time, and has continued at pace throughout the pandemic, notes London-based IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. “Collectively, the leading five peanut butter whiskey brands in the U.S. increased sales by more than 250% from 2019 to 2020,” according to IWSR data.
With flavored whiskey having gained a 3% share from unflavored spirits in 2021, the current whiskey market is exciting, says Carl Carlson, president at Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey for Skrewball Spirits, San Diego.
“Year-to-date dollar sales of whiskey are up 1.2%, with flavored whiskey serving as the catalyst with 10.2% growth,” Carlson explains. “When Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey first started gaining traction, we noticed a handful of companies launching wacky flavor combinations with the assumption that this was the key to success. However, we wouldn’t place Skrewball in this category. Skrewball offers a comforting peanut butter flavor that has been patiently perfected ― and it shows in the product’s taste.
“Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey is a high-quality product with an incredible family story, being co-founded and owned by a husband-and-wife duo,” he continues. “The liquid credentials, along with awareness of the real people behind the brand, creates enthusiasm for our customers to embrace and spread the word about Skrewball.”
Launched in San Diego in July 2018 by husband-and-wife duo Steven Yeng and Brittany Merrill-Yeng, the 35% ABV, 70 proof Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey was conceived from a best-selling cocktail from Steven Yeng’s former Ocean Beach restaurant, explains Merrill-Yeng, co-founder of Skrewball Whiskey.
“After emigrating as a refugee from Cambodia, peanut butter became a favorite new flavor for Steve,” Merrill-Yeng says. “He was working at a popular bar and restaurant in the Ocean Beach neighborhood of San Diego and developed a best-selling peanut butter whiskey cocktail — on top of many other peanut butter-infused dishes. We saw how people gravitated toward the cocktail and knew there was potential to create a product that was just as unique as we were, a product created for a community of unique, unconventional individuals. So, we transformed the cocktail into a shelf-stable spirit with real quality ingredients.”
In 2019, on the heels of Skrewball’s success in its hometown market and high statewide and national demand for peanut butter-flavored whiskey, the company announced its national partnership with Infinium Spirits to expand across the United States. This also bolstered additional valued partnerships with other well-known distributors, Carlson says.
“Through our U.S. sales and marketing relationship with Infinium Spirits, we [now] have multiple valued partnerships with Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) and Breakthru Beverage Group that encompasses over 75% of the U.S. marketplace,” he explains. “Additionally, in select parts of the U.S., we have distributor partners such as Empire Wine Merchants, Allied Beverage, Martignetti Companies and Admiral Beverage.”
Moreover, with recent successful launches in select markets outside the continental United States, the worldwide interest and inquiry into Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey’s expansion have validated an elevated level of demand, Carlson says.
“We were honored to earn Impact Hot Brand recognition and many additional taste, innovation and quality awards. As the category creator, Skrewball has maintained its position as the leading peanut butter whiskey,” Carlson explains. “We were the only one in the category to launch in all Canadian provinces, and early consumer purchase rates and overall buzz about the brand have been extremely positive.”
Memorable and shareable experiences
As Skrewball’s strategic partnerships are fostered to drive relevancy and awareness, along with further engaging a growing community of Skrewball loyalists and explorers in occasions that fit their lifestyle and interests, the brand aims to provide experiences that are memorable and shareable, Carlson explains.
“We love the interaction with our consumer base and the true community formed on our social platforms,” he says. “We see significant cocktail activity and creativity with Skrewball for those who get innovative at home, as well as in the bartending community.
“Skrewball is not only the main component, but also the perfect enhancement for a cocktail, as an addition to an Old Fashioned or Espresso Martini,” he continues. “The spirit can also be mixed with a variety of juices. Consumers enjoy it with coffee, hot chocolate and even in dessert recipes. It is a very versatile drink and adds premium taste and value to a quality cocktail.”
As Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey continues to drive meaningful investment in a wide array of experiential marketing activations that reflect the diversity and interests of its valued community, the brand is looking forward to being part of consumer experiences in the year to come, making a difference in people’s lives and giving back to the community, Carlson adds.
“We have exciting experiences and news on the horizon,” Merrrill-Yeng says. “Stay tuned.”