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Issue 55 - Education is the key

Whisky Magazine Issue 55
April 2006

 

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Education is the key

Dave Broom on why whisky needs to broaden out

Verviers Live consisted of an extraordinary journey through malt whisky's upper reaches: a 1966 Bowmore which sat delicately on the tongue and slowly expanded across the palate; a 1959 Highland Park that spoke of the last gasp before whisky became lighter; and a superlative Springbank which had both guts and grace.

This passage through the superlative was only appropriate at a fair which was filled with people in possession of whisky knowledge of amazing depth. We (affectionately) call them anoraks, but they have a vital role in the evolution of malt. They are the new mavens, the influential ‘information brokers' (to quote Malcolm Gladwell) who can make or break a whisky, whose influence is greater than the volumes which they buy.

They are fact junkies, collecting, collating and distributing them with likeminded colleagues globally. Their craving for the obscure, the small, the old, the different can mean major distillers find it difficult to talk to them. Large firms are, mostly, not set up to cope with small exclusive runs in the same way as independent bottlers are. There are exceptions, but primarily they are geared up for brands.

There's nothing wrong with this – the development of malt as brand is a necessary step, but you ignore the mavens at your peril because they are the very folk who can help to break your product and that necessitates talking to them on their terms.

This means firms need to find ways to give these info sponges the answers they crave. Educa...

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