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Issue 118 - The New Story on Whiskey Row

Whisky Magazine Issue 118
March 2014


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The New Story on Whiskey Row

Dave Waddelkl finds a visitor centre with a twist

Here's a well worn fact: today's big brands are sold on the idea of the experiential story – whisky or otherwise. Well worn because, as Walt Disney showed the world, as far back as 1964, at the New York Trade Fair, live promenade-type story making, the type in which you, honoured guest, are invited to dive in, is an old and much explored art form. Fact because you can't move now for mention of the word: story, as concept, is the new sell, the Holy Grail, the pot at the end of the rainbow. Every marketing department knows this.

Unfortunately, as Adam Scott - designer, architect and champion of the so-called built story, and with whom (full disclosure), in another life, and on various projects, I've had the opportunity to work – rightly says, most big brand marketing departments make plane crashes out of their storytelling. Whatever the intention, says Scott, however well-meaning the brief, the story, when actually told, collapses in on itself, its qualities, its feints, its draws, its surprises and rewards, now reduced to, either, on the one hand, a clutch of brand truths chased down by a welcoming glass of champagne; or, on the other, to an event in which money precedes all thought, one so extravagant as to loosen itself entirely of its original purpose. The first is a pleasant lecture, the second a dictator's pool party.

I'm not being fair. I've had some wonderful experiences, not least, and for example, a multi-distillery funded surprise dinner beside a loch on Islay,...

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