Even though Bear Fight American Single Malt Whiskey has only been on the market for less than a year, it has made quite an impact. From winning multiple awards at prestigious spirit competitions to their recent announcement that Seth MacFarlane had joined the brand, they have quickly established themselves as a brand on the rise. Their quick mauling of the ordinarily staid whiskey world has been impressive. It highlights the unlimited runway for what many hope will be the newest officially recognized American whiskey category.
“It’s taken some time for consumers to learn about the category, but once they realized that they can have a whiskey with Scotch style complexity and a dash of bold American flavor, it has quickly become a favorite,” says Nick Scarff, the master blender of Bear Fight. “I’m very confident that this will be the most explosive whiskey category subset for the next decade.”
Bear Fight is the latest in-house offering from Next Century Spirits (NCS), a Raleigh, North Carolina-based full-service distilled spirits company that, until recently, was known for creating products for private labels and brands. But a recent expansion has set the company on a pathway to focus more on producing its own brands to bring to market. Bear Fight joins Creek Water American Whiskey, Caddy Cocktails, Hapē Sake Spritz, and several other recent rollouts in their growing stable of brands.
By leveraging its insider knowledge of the flavors and trends consumers want, the company is committed to broadly expanding its portfolio to capitalize on opportunities across a wide range of alcoholic beverages. Bear Fight is their biggest launch to date. It aims to quickly rise to the forefront of the emerging American Single Malt category. Part of the strategy NCS is using to capture sales is embracing the unknown and having a little fun with it.
That’s where MacFarlane enters the picture in a big way. Known as the irreverent mind behind some of TV and Hollywood’s biggest off-kilter comedy hits of the last few decades, he has joined the brand as a stakeholder and assumes the title of Chief Storyteller. As the person who created a show with a rowdy talking dog and baby-Family Guy, and a movie with a living stuffed animal who breaks all the norms-Ted, his skills should fit nicely with a brand looking to shake things up.
“I’m charged with helping to find a unique tone of voice for the brand moving forward and developing our social media messaging strategy,” says MacFarlane. “It’s a deliberately ambiguous title that can encompass many different facets of communication. Everything I have done in my career has been based on my personal taste. I expect it will be the same here, and we will have some fun with it.”
Made with barley grown in the heartland of America, the product is distilled following traditional single-malt whiskey production techniques. It then is aged for a minimum of three years in first-fill American oak bourbon barrels before finishing in peat-smoked barrels and sherry casks. Packaged in a distinctive bottle with significant slash marks down the label and priced at $40 a bottle, it aims to grab consumers’ attention with both its looks and affordability.
“We wanted to go in a different direction with our product given that American Single Malt Whiskey is an interesting new category that doesn’t have a long history behind it,” says Scarff. “We didn’t want to be like every other single malt out there with a traditional-looking label and name. Our goal from day one was to make the best everyday drinking single malt on the market that incorporates distinctive American flavors with traditional Scottish flavors. We think our whiskey is bold and interesting, and we wanted to make it stand out on the shelf so drinkers would stop in their tracks and look at it.”
It’s now available in 22 states and numerous online platforms, including ReserveBar and For Whiskey Lovers. Plans call for Bear Fight to continue aggressively going to market using NCS’s recently created sales team to achieve their goals. Only time will tell if Bear Fight can continue its recent tear, but things are lined up favorably for it to continue.
Expect to see more products hitting the market as brands prepare for the flood of drinkers that is expected to happen once the government officially approves the American Single Malt Whiskey category. How they do, no one will know, but the odds are good the category will thrive, whiskey is red-hot right now, and all new entrants will have to contend with the brands who got there first, especially Bear Fight.