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Issue 22 - A tangled web

Whisky Magazine Issue 22
May 2002


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A tangled web

Richard Jolley delves into the ether for a wide world of whisky web sites and discusses the future for the spirit online

For an industry that prides itself so much on tradition, it's ironic that whisky should have so whole-heartedly embraced the personification of modernity – the internet.

But the fact is, nowadays, the web and whisky are bosom buddies and the industry without the internet would be a body devoid of an arm or a leg – and a money making arm or leg at that.

Online sales of whisky are burgeoning with sites such as, run by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, seeing figures rocket by an amazing 800 per cent in the last six months.

Also, companies both large and small are realising how important the web is in building fan bases worldwide. “Half of all our new customers come through our website,” says Richard Joynson, proprietor of Loch Fyne Whiskies (

The first generation of whisky web sites appeared in the mid 90s but now second- and third-generation versions are being launched.

Big money is being ploughed into them with brands such as Johnnie Walker, Glenfiddich and The Famous Grouse putting anything upwards of £300,000 into online brand development.

But which retail and whisky sites are hitting the mark? Is it right to go for sober practicality in your whisky site's design or stick some glitz in there?

Glenfiddich launched its second-generation site ( at the end of 2001. The existing web presence was difficult to navigate and text-heavy according to user feedback, says the company. As a result a ‘three-click principle' i...

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