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Issue 77 - A new frontier

Whisky Magazine Issue 77
January 2009


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A new frontier

Jonathan McCormick looks at selling bourbon to the Scots.

When you contemplate the emerging markets for whisky, you'll probably think of India or China, but a new frontier has opened up behind our backs,and it's one of the tougher tasks in spirit sales. Indulge me the cultural insensitivities of an apt phrase “Selling snow to the Eskimos”,but there are those out there championing American whiskey under the noses of the Scottish distillers. Is this Scotland's guilty pleasure?

Marketing bourbon entails educating consumers that it doesn't start and end with Jack Daniel's. “Scotch whisky was out of favour because your Dad drank it, so you didn't want to be seen drinking it,but bourbon is fast attracting a younger generation seeking a whisky alternative” explains Elaine Mitchell who promotes Four Roses bourbons as marketing manager for Glasgow-based EPM brands, “The guys at Jack Daniel's have done a fantastic marketing job, but it's a Tennessee whiskey,not a bourbon.We want to emphasise the quality of Four Roses and regard bourbon the way you would talk about the differences between single malts and blends.

“Bourbon tends to be sweeter and that different taste profile means a lot of people who drink bourbon don't drink single malts.Many of the consumers coming up to me at Whisky Live Glasgow were very knowledgeable about Scotch whisky, but had absolutely no idea about bourbon.The malt whisky drinker is educated to calculate the flavour difference between a 10 and 30 year old dram,depending on its distillery of origin and ca...

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