Old whiskies, new ways / by heathrowkennedy

Having had the privilege of working in the super premium and luxury single-malt whisky categories for about 12 years I cannot resist an invitation to attend a whisky launch. Poacher turned gamekeeper or perhaps it is the other way round, no matter, I was both thirsty and intrigued by the invitation to attend the Glenfiddich Gallery last night in Mayfair, London. Scotch whisky is an incredibly competitive category, that's what makes it so compelling for both the practitioner who has to cut through the clutter to win the hearts and throats of the customer AND the whisky drinker. It's a drink which is tightly regulated and one which comes with a lot of heritage. Those two factors make innovation challenging but essential if a brand is to survive and flourish. Which is why Scotch whisky is one of the best examples of brand building. But I digress.

Last night Glenfiddich, the flagship single malt of William Grant & Sons, still owned by the original founder's family, launched the 'Glenfiddich Gallery' a collection of limited edition whiskies which have been selected by their Malt Master, Brian Kinsman. Other whisky brands have done something similar, I helped to launch The Macallan's 'Fine & Rare' collection about 10 years ago, but Glenfiddich have cleverly tapped into the growing demand for customer personalisation to create a proposition that goes further.

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That personlisation begins with four simple questions which help to explore your whisky palate. Anything which helps a novice explore and understand which whisky is for them gets my vote. In some respects it can be easier to stumble upon the wrong whisky than the right one and this approach takes the mystery out of the process.

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At the event, this was recreated using an iPad and being able to then see a whisky which matched your palate bottled in front of you for enjoyment later.

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That personalisaton continues at the other end of the customer journey - with the purchaser having full control over packaging and messaging. This is a potent option which enhances the entire gifting potential.

Sensibly they have also brought an additional element of experience into the proposition with distillery based experiences included with some of the pricier bottlings (which start at £390 and go up to £100,000). I may quibble with the naming of that option, 'Platinum Experience', but it's a smart thing to do. Luxury brands need to have a manifestation beyond

The Glenfiddich Gallery works as product range and customer experience and, for a change, the launch event succeeded in bringing alive the concept in a very immersive way which was true to the proposition.

Oh and the whisky passed muster !