Winning with Whisk(e)y
Whisky drinking is changing, thanks to innovations like Haig Club – the easy drinking single grain whisky that has brought a whole new generation into the world of “Scotch”. So how do you make the most of your offering?
Whereas in the past much of the whisky sold in the on trade was to older drinkers, that’s changing fast. Whisky drinking is becoming fashionable amongst male and female drinkers in their 20s and 30s – thanks in no small part to clever marketing on social media by distillers – who are creating excitement, and sharing, new discoveries. To maximise your sales potential, it is important to generate opportunities that engage your customers and create excitement around the product.
Blended or single malt?
There will always be demand for classic blends such as Famous Grouse, Bell’s and Johnnie Walker – and drinkers that are loyal to such brands. However, to generate additional income think about
how you can upsell, for example:
• Bell’s Original and Bell’s Extra Special
• Famous Grouse and Famous Grouse Smoky Black
• Johnnie Walker Red Label and Johnnie Walker 12 year old Black
Use these upsells in your cocktail offerings too – ‘premiumisation’ is the name of the game here. If you’re really serious about developing your whisky sales, then a range of single malts is an absolute must – as this is what customers are looking for when selecting a good whisky.
Whisky or whiskey is produced around the globe. Celebrate this by stocking an extensive range of world whiskies. Start with Scotland (perfect for your Burns Night celebrations) and have at least one whisky from each of the five regions.
Speyside: Go for a lighter malt like Glenlivet and the richer, sweeter The Macallan. The Glenlivet and Glen Grant are great choices too.
Lowland: A great place for the beginners to start their whisky journey; the three main distilleries are Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie and Bladnoch.
Highland: Go for big, smoky and peaty whiskies like Oban, Glenmorangie, Royal Lochnagar and Dalwhinnie
Campbeltown: Home of slightly salty, smoky, dry tasting malts from the Glen Scotia, Glengyle and Springbank distilleries.
And of course, the Holy Grail of single malt… Islay: Some of the strongest flavours you’ll ever find in a whisky glass, thanks to famous names like Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Bowmore and Caol Ila.
Scotch whiskies form the basis of your range. Now consider whiskey from Ireland – Bushmills, Jameson and Pogues are strong performers, and Japanese offerings like Suntory and Nikka too. American Bourbon has a massive following with top selling Jack Daniel’s outperforming whisky in the on trade, even in Scotland! Offer a mix of straight and flavoured bourbons from names such as Maker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace and Bulleit.
Finally, look for exclusive whiskies that you can feature as a category expander, or guest whisk(e)y. Sites such as worldwhiskiesawards.com provide inspirational and award winning whiskies from every corner of the globe, which will certainly cause a stir when they appear on your listings.
Create a strong marketing campaign around your whisky range:
• A whisky menu – include information about where the distillery is, its history, provenance and any interesting facts. The ‘story’ will get your customers talking and pique their interest.
• Tasting evenings – your suppliers will help, or if you’ve a local specialist, invite them in to talk about the range. It’s great PR for their business too.
• Flights – flights that allow drinkers to explore a certain region or country are fun – or go base, premium, super-premium on the same brand.
• Promote – World Whisky Day on Saturday 19 May is a great opportunity. However, why not have a whisky of the week or month? Make sure your best customers get the chance to try it at a special price too – if you can get people talking about your choice, you’ll sell more.
• New offerings – if your customers discover something new at your outlet, the social media activity will make sure you’re onto a winner!