Blog : whisky

Is whisky suffering an identity crisis?

Is whisky suffering an identity crisis?

I attended an event this week at the £3million freshly refurbished Scotch Whisky Experience that got me thinking; with other tipples like gin, craft beers and even wine (apparently ‘wine punks’ is an actual thing) experiencing shake-ups, challengers and consumption renaissance, why is Scotch finding it so hard to join the party?

Undoubtedly whisky is one of the UK’s greatest exports (38 bottles were shipped overseas every second in 2015, generating £3.95billion for the UK balance of trade), building this success on quality, craftsmanship and provenance. But as it continues to wrestle with itself on how to attract younger UK consumers, so essential for sustained growth, whisky may be being shackled by the very image it’s strived to create.

On the one hand an appreciation of the finest spirit, lovingly and slowly created, to be taken seriously, savoured and appreciated, and on the other, the declaration that there are no rules, no drinking rituals (to add water or not), cocktails are fair game and hey, just have it your way. It will be argued each has their place, but are they complementary or contradictory?

Now I totally understand the importance of history, of brand essence rooted in truth and of premium product quality, and I’m certainly not advocating throwing the baby out with the bathwater (there are some whisky brands doing really beautiful, unique things), but there are lessons to be learned from other heritage brands – Mulberry, Burberry or Pringle – that have successfully managed to marry time-honoured craftsmanship with contemporary appeal and aspiration. The way these brands are choosing to make and market themselves in a way relevant to consumers today is critical – both to current growth and to future longevity.

Having worked in-house at The Glenmorangie Company after its sale to LVMH, a whole ‘new world’ of whisky marketing was embraced. It was different. It was exciting. It was refreshing. Today there are some whiskies; Haig, Ardbeg, Bruichladdich that I believe are doing it differently; creatively attracting, engaging and targeting (younger) audiences, but they are in the minority.

So while there are buffs who may consider this post in itself blasphemy, without adapting to the digital expectations and marketing savvy sophistication of modern, younger consumers, whisky could be in danger of alienating the very drinkers it will come to rely on.

A toast: Stripe to deliver digital & PR services for Burn Stewart malts

A toast: Stripe to deliver digital & PR services for Burn Stewart malts

We’ve a hugely exciting brief here at Stripe after securing the account to deliver digital and PR services for Burn Stewart Distillers’ malt whisky brands.

Burn Stewart Distillers is part of the Distell Group Limited, Africa’s leading producer and marketer of spirits, fine wines, ciders and ready to drinks. The company owns and operates three malt distilleries: Bunnahabhain (Islay), Tobermory & Ledaig (Mull) and Deanston (Doune, near Stirling). It has a blending and maturation facility in Airdrie, a bottling hall and dry and finished goods storage site in East Kilbride, and operates a sales and marketing branch in Taiwan.

We’ll be working with the team at Burn Stewart to deliver global digital and PR activity across its Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory (including Ledaig) brands.

Our remit will cover: digital and social strategy development, web optimisation, design and e-commerce, community engagement, CRM and influencer outreach and management of traditional PR and events.

Activity across the three brands will centre on showcasing each malt’s personality and optimising owned channels to create a compelling user experience for domestic and international markets.

As our Digital Director Darcie Tanner put it: “Each Burn Stewart brand is rich in storytelling potential, making this a really exciting brief.”

Rare Malt Lands at Edinburgh Airport

Rare Malt Lands at Edinburgh Airport

Scotch aficionados will have the chance of a lifetime as one of the world’s rarest bottles of whisky goes up for sale at Edinburgh Airport, with all profits going to charity.

The Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve sold at auction earlier this year to the World Duty Free Group for £42,000 and is one of only 11 bottles made available to the public.

Passengers travelling through Scotland’s busiest airport can now purchase the exclusive 55 year old single malt, the only bottle in the UK. The price tag for the precious whisky is £52,000, which, if the bottle sells, would make it the highest amount ever paid for a single bottle in a UK airport.

All profits of the sale will go the Lotus Flower Trust charity to help fund the building of a school and home for disadvantaged children in Ramnagar, India.

The bottle lands in the capital on the tail winds of a successful year for whisky trade at Edinburgh Airport. World Duty Free Edinburgh currently holds the record for the entire World Duty Free group for the largest single transaction spent on whisky at £51,000, which was achieved in December 2011.

The Janet Sheed Roberts commemorates the life and spirit of Scot Janet Roberts, the granddaughter of William Grant, founder of Glenfiddich. Janet Roberts celebrated her 110th birthday in August 2011, and was the oldest woman in Scotland until she passed away in April this year.