On 27 May 2016 Doug Bagley, Managing Director Global Travel and Middle East at Diageo, officially opened the first Johnnie Walker House in Europe, in the presence of Ewan Gunn, Global Scotch Whisky Ambassador and Guy Escolme, Brand Director Johnnie Walker. Hans Offringa was there, representing Whisky Magazine and had a short Q&A with all three.
Q: What is a Johnnie Walker House?
A: An exclusive embassy for luxury Scotch whisky. Each is built around the theme of 'Whisky Conversations' and designed to immerse you in the history, provenance and pioneering spirit of the Johnnie Walker brand. Part gallery, part lifestyle space and part museum, it brings together luxury whisky innovation with art, design, fine dining and culture.
Q: Where did it start?
A: It was originally a concept in Asia for the domestic market. We first opened JW Houses in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Seoul in the domestic market. It worked so well that we decided to branch out to Travel Retail in Asia and now to Europe.
Q: What is the strategy behind this type of international outlet?
A: That is a threefold one. Firstly, premiumisation or moving towards the more expensive premium products. Secondly we offer exclusive whisky expressions, unique to each House and only available there, as a special gift for the visitor/traveller to take home. Thirdly we aim to make the Travel Retail shopping experience enjoyable for travellers. About 12 per cent of travellers buy spirits in Travel Retail and the JW house is an exceptional way to attract them.
Q: Is this a franchise?
A: No, at Schiphol The JW House is a three-way partnership among Heinemann (Schiphol Airport Retail), Schiphol Airport who makes the space available and Diageo taking care of products and personnel.
Q: Do all JW Houses offer the same?
A: Some Houses have a merchandise partnership, for instance with Hublot watches and Dunhill apparel, others have a bar, but all have a flavour wall, unique Johnnie Walker expressions and space for mentoring. Schiphol's location is distinctive for its size.
Q: Are there more JW Houses scheduled?
A: There is a strategy for where to open Houses. In the future you will see more of them in other travel retail settings. We cannot disclose any future locations, but let's say, for instance, the USA is an interesting market for us.
At the opening Kevin Kroon from Amsterdam speakeasy Door 74, recently crowned as Best Bartender of the Netherlands in Diageo's World Class Competition, presented an excellent smooth, gingery/peppery cocktail with this new JW sibling. The attendees also enjoyed some fine food and whisky pairings - JW Gold with chocolate truffle, JW Platinum with smoked salmon and JW Blue with goat's cheese and whisky-soaked walnut.
Young entrepreneur offers bespoke whisky tours
Whisky tourism in Scotland is big business, with around 120 active whisky distilleries, 40 more in the pipeline and distillery visitor numbers reaching upwards of 1.5 million per year.
However, there's a lack of services providing a personal connection between whisky tourists and the distilleries. With the industry looking to find innovative new ways to encourage whisky tourism in Scotland, whisky PR manager, Kirsty MacGeoch, has created the missing link between the distilleries and the visitors, with the launch of luxury whisky experience service, Whisky Co.
Based in Edinburgh and supported by RBS' Entrepreneurial Spark start-up business accelerator, Whisky Co. connects people to Scotland's distilleries through tailored whisky experiences.
Whisky Co. creates bespoke itineraries, individually suited to guests' requirements and books all aspects of their trip, from transfers to tastings, with a focus on luxury. Whisky Co. has all whisky lovers covered, from the novice to the connoisseur. Hailing from Scotland's whisky capital, Speyside, Kirsty has created and hosted many VIP distillery trips for iconic whisky brands over the past five years.
"Whisky is a huge Scottish success story, but there's a missing link between the distilleries and the whisky lovers coming to visit." she says.
Begin your whisky journey with Whisky Co. here: www.thewhiskyco.co.uk
The Glenlivet has unveiled The Glenlivet Cipher, a mysterious single malt Scotch whisky released without any cask information or tasting notes, testing whisky fans' noses and palates against The Glenlivet Master Distiller, Alan Winchester. An innovative interactive digital experience will build consumer engagement by providing support to decode the flavour profile.
Presented in an opaque black bottle, The Glenlivet Cipher is designed to be the ultimate challenge for single malt Scotch whisky drinkers. Crafted from a unique cask combination that has never before been used by The Glenlivet, Cipher offers a new flavour experience to explore while maintaining the flawlessly smooth and fruity flavour profile that the distillery is famous for.
The journey to decode the tasting notes of The Glenlivet Cipher begins on the label of the bottle, where the first clue appears with a prompt to visit the official The Glenlivet microsite at cipher.theglenlivet.com. Once online, Alan Winchester lays down the challenge to decipher the tasting notes through a video. Visitors to the site are encouraged to create a flavour wheel by selecting six aromas for the nose and six flavours for the palate, indicating the strength of each, resulting in more than 10,000 possible flavour combinations.
Additional support - including tasting tips from Alan Winchester plus further clues - helps whisky fans to decode the taste and allows those without a bottle of The Glenlivet Cipher to learn more about the whisky tasting experience.
Alan Winchester comments, "The rise in the popularity of single malt Scotch whisky over the past ten years means that more people than ever are actively nosing, tasting and discussing single malt Scotch whisky, which is fantastic. It is therefore a great pleasure to introduce The Glenlivet Cipher to the world as it presents a challenge for Scotch whisky fans at all levels."
"For the true whisky connoisseurs out there, we have combined a unique and original selection of casks to craft The Glenlivet Cipher as part of our commitment to building upon the flawlessly smooth and fruity house style of The Glenlivet."
Available from June 2016, The Glenlivet Cipher is available in limited quantities in 25 markets worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Taiwan and Canada, at the recommended selling price of $120.
Lakes Spirit released
The Lakes Distillery has announced the release of the first ever spirit produced by the Distillery. This limited bottle is exclusively available to Founders Club members who will receive their First 70cl bottle of the Lakes Spirit in June.
Founders Club members can now invest in the whisky to build a ten year collection that will be exceptionally rare and exclusively unique to a limited number of Founders. Outside of the Founders' Club, The Lakes Malt won't be available to the general public until 2018.
By joining the Founders' Club, members will receive one 70cl bottle of The Lakes Spirit every year for the next ten years - exclusively drawn from the first 100 casks of whisky ever produced at The Lakes Distillery. In addition, members have the unique opportunity to taste the whisky developing during that time with matching miniatures, allowing full appreciation of the progression of the maturing spirit. This is available to 2,975 members worldwide, making this a rare and wonderful experience for a discerning collector or whisky connoisseur.
After ten years, members will have received their ten part collection of Limited Edition Lakes Whisky. Throughout, members will have the opportunity to be involved with the annual Founders' Day and exclusive events throughout the year.