Spirits Summit

Whisky drinkers’ image needs to change to help drive category

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Taste success: coming up with alternative serves for whisky can help pubs sell more of the spirit, according to experts
Taste success: coming up with alternative serves for whisky can help pubs sell more of the spirit, according to experts
The old-school traditional image of a whisky drinker being an older gentleman with a pipe, sipping on the spirit next to a fire must drastically change in order to boost whisky sales, according to two spirits companies.

Founder of Australian brand Starward Whisky David Vitale and Diageo head of malts Joanna Henderson outlined how the on-trade can alter this perception of the spirit to an audience at The Morning Advertiser​'s Spirit Summit today (2 October) at the Loft, Shoreditch, east London.

Henderson said: “Whisky is the most diverse spirit category out there. It is the most unparalleled in terms of flavour and taste but it is also quite a complicated spirit.

“We need to simplify things and make it more accessible in a fun and playful way.”

Vitale echoed Henderson’s comments when it came to altering the traditional image of whisky drinkers.

Approachable spirit

He said: “[To sell whisky], we need to have a new occasion and a modern serve. We want to make whisky an approachable thing. No tweed jackets, no pipe and no fireplace.”

Vitale also outlined how whisky is not just for late-night drinking but can serve up an opportunity at other occasions.

“There is a new occasions for whisky, which is at the dinner table. Using it in long drinks or even in cocktails,” he added.

Henderson waxed lyrical about the opportunities in which pubs can give drinkers the experience they crave when it comes to serving whisky.

“Because of that flavour diversity in whisky, there’s loads of complexity in the flavour and there are people out there who want to enjoy it in a neat serve but we have almost put up barriers to say you can’t mix it," she added.

“But nowadays, why not? People need to be allowed to enjoy whisky as they enjoy it."

Memorable experience

Henderson said: “While flavour is the big unlock, what you need to create an amazing and memorable experience about the serve.

“By connecting the serve back into the flavour, it will allow people into whisky and this is a huge win for suppliers and consumers.”

Continuing about the serve, combining whisky with a particular flavour of mixer can enhance the taste of the spirit.

Henderson said: “Ginger is also something that can change whisky. It allows you to complement the whisky but gives the ability to access it in a longer, more refreshing serve.

“Without a doubt, there is a real interest and intrigue in whisky and there is so much more opportunity to explore."

The Spirits Summit, now in its fifth year, was powered by The Morning Advertiser in association with sponsors Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Warner Edward, Slingsby Gin, Starward and London Cocktail Week

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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