Johnnie Walker to work more closely with bartenders on future innovation

Claire Dodd

Claire Dodd

08 December 2015

Diageo-owned Scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker has said it plans to work directly with the bar trade on future innovation.

Guy Escolme, global brand director for Johnnie Walker said the success of its recent Johnnie Walker Select Casks Rye Cask Finish in the US – which was designed for use in classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and Old Fashioned – had prompted the brand to consider more bar-led launches.

The Rye Cask Finish was launched as a limited edition, but Escolme said its popularity had prompted the brand to look into making it a permanent addition. He said: 'Blending from the bar back, as we say, is really something that is new and innovative for Johnnie Walker. But it’s something we see as important to engage with bartenders, and getting a new conversation going around our blending skills and credentials. I think it’s an exciting new space for us.

'We are intending to work more closely with them... and getting them to feed back on potentially what our innovation agenda should look like. Do we have bartenders that are going up to work directly with our blending team? Not yet, but I can envisage a time when that would be happening.”

Escolme was speaking at the London launch of the brand’s latest anti-drink drive campaign, Join The Pact. The brand has partnered with the drivers of the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team, including Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, to encourage consumers to pledge not to drink and drive.

Last year Johnnie Walker announced its intention to gather five million Join The Pact’ pledges by 2018, and has since passed the half way mark, with almost 2.6 million people having made a personal promise to never drink and drive.

The brand recently launched its latest innovation, the John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2016, which this year uses grain whisky as the focus of the blend.

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