One of the biggest projects ever on this blog has come to an end. From 5th May to 30th September 650 people have partcipated in a survey about their relationship with whisky.
Because of the big amount of data, the report will be split into three parts:
- Overview with the basic results
- Analysis of several subsets
- Whisky blogging survey
Secretly I had hoped for a participation in the four digits, but I am still quite happy that so many people spent a little time to answer the questions of the survey.
A word of caution to begin with: The nature of this survey made it impossible to collect representative data that is statisically waterproof. To accomplish this, a random set of whisky drinkers would have had to be asked to participate. The participants of this survey are a non-representative subset of whisky drinkers who
- were aware of the survey by using the internet, either reading the blog directly or reading announcements on social media
- felt inclined to participate.
So the results of the survey are skewed by design, but the high number of participants still makes it possible to see trends. The survey includes a few questions that can shed some light on the direction of the skew. The counts don’t necessarily add up to the total of 650 because it was possible not to answer a question. Some questions allowed multiple answers.
1. How old are you?
Whisky has long had the image of being an old man’s drink. The results of the survey suggest a different picture. Even though they are not representative, they show that a lot of whisky drinkers are middle-aged. But whisky certainly is not a drink for the youth, it appears to be an acquired taste.
2. Your gender
A male majority here is not really surprising, but the big discrepancy of genders surprises nevertheless. The whisky world is still dominated by men, and women appear to be having a hard time to break into this ‘fortress’. I find it quite striking that at whisky shows you can see quite a few female visitors, and the number of women working in the whisky industry is constantly growing. Several female bloggers have hit the scene lately and a good number of my followers on social media are female too. But not very many of them seem to have fancied taking part in the survey. Is there a notion among whisky women of wanting to remain in the background?
3. Where do you live?
No big surprises overall here, but I do find it interesting that the booming whisky markets in Asia have little to no reflection in this survey. It may be the language barrier, but then again this exists for many other countries as well.
4. What is your level of education?
Here is another interesting result. The amount of academics among the participants is quite staggering. This most certainly is an effect of the non-representativness of the survey. A later question will give further insight.
5. What is your household income after taxes per year?
Whisky is not a cheap drink, so it could be expected that lower incomes are less represented. But we can see that whisky love is spread pretty much across the entire income range.
6. How often do you drink whisky on average?
The majority of participants enjoys whisky several times a month or several times a day. The true devotees who drink whisky on a daily basis make up less than 1/7th.
7. How would you describe your interest in whisky?
Here we see that almost no participants describe themselves as casual whisky drinkers. This makes it pretty clear what subset of all whisky drinkers is covered in the survey. Just how nuch the “geekiness” is correlated with education is one of the questions that will be tackled in the next part of the analysis.
8. What media do you use for information about whisky?
Information sources are very well spread across the spectrum, with blogs leading the pack. And even though this was a survey among internet users, traditional media like books and magazines still have their place for information about whisky.
9. Do you have a blog that covers whisky?
This survey included a set of questions only for bloggers, so I specifically asked them to participate. So it is no suprise that the percentage is comparatively high. Steve Ury’s Complete List of Whiskey Blogs currently lists more than 250 active blogs, so the 145 bloggers who took the survey represent a sizeable portion of them. The questions for bloggers will be analyzed in a later post.
10. How do you like your whisky?
As could be expected, most prefer their whisky neat. An interesting result is that whisky cocktails appear to be more popular than longdrinks
11. What other spirits do you enjoy?
Most whisky drinkers do indeed venture into other spirit territories, and even vodka features among the favourites of some.
12. Do you prefer a specific whisky type?
13. Do you have a favourite brand or distillery?
Most whisky lovers have a favourite, but only a tiny fraction sticks to it loyally.
14. How many open whisky bottles do you have?
Again the results are spread pretty broadly. The median appears to be around 10 bottles, but the number of people with significant drinking stock is not to be neglected.
15. How would you classify your relationship to whisky?
By far the most whisky lovers consider themselves drinkers only. While some do also collect, buying whisky for investment is not very popular.
16. What is the highest amount you ever paid for a bottle of whisky?
It can be noted that many whisky drinkers can be quite generous when it comes to buying whisky.
17. Do you give yourself a monthly or yearly budget for whisky?
Less than a quart of whisky enthusiats have a whisky budget, the majority manages (or tries so) without.
18. How much do you spend on buying whisky per year?
Obviously there is a correlation to question 16. But we see that it is also possible to enjoy whisky when you are on a budget.
19. Do you swap or buy whisky samples?
More than 50% take advantage of the possibility to taste more drams without need to buy full bottles.
20. Have you ever visited a whisky distillery?
Whisky tourism seems popular with 60% having visited at least one distillery.
21. Have you ever attended a hosted whisky tasting or masterclass?
Whisky tastings are even more popular.
22. Are you a member of a local whisky club?
Whisky is best enjoyed in company. Quite a few whisky lovers take this to the next level and team up in a club.
23. Are you a member of an “industry club” (Ardbeg Committee, Friends of Classic Malts etc.)
Membership is free, so it is no surprise that many take advantage of this.
Given the fact that casual whisky drinkers were hardly present in the survey, most results are in line with my expectations. Perhaps the biggest suprise for me was just how much whisky enthusiasm goes along with higher education. It should not be neglected though that a high income helps a lot if you like whisky, and there definitely is a correlation between income and education. So it is a bit of a ‘hen or egg’ question between these two.
Only 4.5% women? Come on ladies!
Part 2 will follow next week.