By Andrew Starke

Global marketing campaigns such as Johnnie Walker’s ‘The Man Who Walked Around The World’ are good news for small single malt brands, according to a local whisky expert.

With his company, Whisky Galore, and a business card that proclaims him as ‘director of spiritual matters’, Michael Fraser Milne is also a ‘Keeper of the Quaich’ – one of about 1400 ‘Keepers’ worldwide rewarded with the title for their positive association with Scotch Whisky.

TheShout asked Milne if the ad spend of companies like Diageo on premium and super premium whiskies like Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve, Green Label and Blue Label also indirectly benefit smaller, single malt brands.

“Without a doubt it brings awareness up,” he said. “On the back of some of these marketing campaigns we often find a rise in interest. Many criticise these large outfits as dominating the industry, but I see the industry as ‘whisky’, not one company, and any good promotion for quality whisky helps the entire category.”

Milne said small producers needed to face up to the fact that it is a consumer driven world where consumers to some extend are ‘sold to’.

“Without these bigger budget efforts we might lose some of our place in the drinks category,” he said. “Also we do get asked about the relationship between the blends and malts and it's easy to make the associations for folk – it can be an easier step from Johnnie Black to Johnnie Green than from Johnny Black to Caol Ila.”

Milne’s warning to single malt retailers is a timely one as Bourbon whisky is about to surpass Scotch whisky as Australia’s largest spirits category.

“My early forays into the Australian market would indicate that the Australian consumer is now looking for the next experience in the Scotch whisky bracket which for most will mean single malts,” he said. However they seem to be quite prepared to go straight from a standard blend into quite upmarket drams such as the Glendronach Single Vintages.”

Milne advises retailers against upselling if they can't provide the customer with a recommendation that will suit them.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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