Easy does it

Easy does it

The Easy Drinking Whisky Company is taking the selling of whisky to a new level – by selling directly on taste. Dominic Roskrow reports

News | 17 Nov 2003 | Issue 35 | By Dominic Roskrow

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Quite often the best ideas are the simplest ones. The ones when you say ‘why didn’t someone think of that before?’So it is with the concept behind Easy Drinking Whisky Company, which has taken the selling of whisky to a new level – by selling directly on taste.The company is set to launch three whiskies, sold under the names The Smooth Sweeter One, The Smokey Peaty One, and The Rich Spicy One. As simple as that.And with a modern approach to packaging and an emphasis on top quality whisky to back up the irreverent and arguably gimmicky marketing, the company is set to take whisky drinking in to new and untested ground.The company is the brainchild of John and Mark Geary, lovers of whisky who had been discussing how modern brands did not speak to them in a way or tone of voice that was right for them.They took the idea to The Macallan’s David Robertson – and thus began a journey to provide simply labelled and reasonably priced whiskies that met the three fundamental taste profiles listed above.“Getting the flavour and quality right was absolutely paramount,” says David Robertson.“It had to be – I just couldn’t have put my name to it. We all agreed the whisky had to taste great.”At the heart of the project was a desire to provide whisky for an intelligent and educated market that was put off by the traditional image of whisky. The plan was to find top quality products and take them to a new audience by promoting them in a new way.“The best analogy for me is the South Australian wine industry,” says David. “By focusing on flavour and accessible price points they have persuaded consumers to try their wines. They have educated the UK consumer to understand that terroir is less important than grape variety and that shiraz delivers a certain style/flavour of wine. We are trying to do the same.”While supermarkets and some independent bottlers have set out down the road of simplifying whisky labels and focusing on individual styles of whisky, the Easy Drinking Whisky Company is on new ground.And the refreshing attitude it is taking can best be summed up by fact that the Scottish-based company has thrown out all suggestions of cultural snobbery by choosing for one of its three products a whisky that does not originate in Scotland. This is quite amazing, as Dave Robertson is happy to acknowledge.“The Smooth Sweeter One was the most difficult to crack,” he says. “It was clear in our minds what we wanted; a smooth, easy drinking whisky that had no harshness or burn, with a slight sweetness on the palate. “Several attempts with Scottish malt tried and failed to live up to expectation, with a residual harshness and oiliness we didn’t like.“We tried mixing different types of whisky together and ended up using aged grain whisky. However, we tasted it alongside several other whiskies and were not sure that we definitively preferred it.“We looked further afield to Ireland, a country renowned for its smooth whisky and have found a whisky we all love.“The reason for this was twofold. We wanted a smoothness that could only come from Ireland and we wanted to create a whisky with maximum mixability. The maxim is to enjoy not worship the whisky.” It should be eminently clear that the three partners were not cutting corners in their hunt for their whiskies, and the other two choices were put through the same rigourous pacing.The Smoky Peaty One, for instance was inspired by the love of Jon and Mark for two types of whisky – Islay malts and in particular Lagavulin, on the one hand, and the smokier and woodier Highland Park and Talisker on the other.“Initially I supplied two liquids and both were loved,” says David. “But we couldn’t agree which was the best. Then at midnight, we had the kind of thought that only arrives after a few whiskies. The small amounts left over in each glass were poured in to a new glass and a new, better
whisky, was born.”Perhaps the easiest of the three types to create was the Rich Spicy One, because it was based on the taste characteristics of the the Macallan Gran Reserva. Interestingly, though, while the company believes it has found the right taste profile, there is no Macallan in the finished product.With a website backing up the project, a very acceptable price tag of £17 and a massive tasting exercise underway in partnership with Oddbins, under the name Does Your Nose Know, the Easy Drinking Whisky Company could well be on to a winner.“We’re aiming this at people like us,” concludes David. “People who like whisky and have gone past the taste being a barrier to buying it. We are not constrained by any of the traditional images of whisky, and we have created a drink that people can reward themselves and relax with. We believe we have a concept that can really work.”
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