Mad Men drives the young to drink

Young Australians have replaced over-65s as the nation's biggest whisky drinkers, thanks to what market researchers have called the “Mad Men effect”.

Retirees comprised about 10 per cent of Australia's whisky-drinking market just eight years ago, when 18- to 34-year-olds accounted for just 8 per cent.

But Roy Morgan Research has reported that whisky consumption among younger groups has risen sharply since 2007, when period TV series Mad Men began to air.

Market researchers say Australian whisky consumption has risen almost 19 per cent to about 19 million glasses a month in the past four years, with the average consumption rate fairly steady at just shy of 10 glasses per whisky drinker.

Australians aged between 25 and 34 now account for the largest share of the whisky-drinking market (13 per cent in September 2013), followed by 18- to 24-year-olds (11.9 per cent) while market penetration in the other age groups has remained steady.

Younger Australians tended to prefer brands such as Jameson, Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker Black over traditionally popular brands such as Grant's, Black Douglas and Ballantine.

In 2011, market researchers from Kantar Worldpanel similarly pinned a 13.4 per cent increase in British single malt whisky sales on the “Mad Men effect”.