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Issue 49 - The name game

Whisky Magazine Issue 49
July 2005


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The name game

A spate of whiskies with strange names suggest whisky is moving forward in marketing terms. Is this a good thing? We asked a select panel of experts

The panel
JG : John Glaser : Compass Box
MR : Mark Reynier : Bruichladdich
DR : Dave Robertson : Easy Drinking Whisky Company

Q. In your view does the traditional whisky bottle label with age statement etc put some people off the product?

JG: I think the traditional image that some people have about Scotch whisky is that it's a connoisseur product or an old fashioned product that's “not for me”. I don't think that a traditional label is per se a bad thing. But I do think that Scotch whisky is different from other spirits categories in that there has been less adventurousness in the design of most of the labels and packaging.

DR:Yes, definitely. The pomp and circumstance and right of passage on age risks tying whisky to the old world wine values of France. If you are in the club and can decode what is said then great... If not then it is a tough call and a risky purchase to buy something with a strange name, big age statement and (normally) very little indication of flavour.

MR: Or put another way – it may not actively attract them. My hunch is that the single malt consumer is more sophisticated and mature than the industry cares to think.

We are not dealing with kids (vodka) nor wing commanders (blended whisky) but a larger sector some of whom are traditionalists and others, increasingly, are more enlightened – and for whom the boring, standard approach may not work.

Look at what's happened with wine labelling over the past decade to see how this has been c...

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