Diageo creates ‘experimental’ craft whisky arm

17th November, 2015 by Amy Hopkins

Diageo has unveiled an “experimental craft whisky” arm within its business that “pushes the boundaries of blending”, called Whiskey Union.

Whiskey-Union

Smoky Goat is one of the first launches under Diageo’s “weird” Whiskey Union project

The project forms part of Diageo’s newly unveiled strategy to target growth in the Scotch whisky segment and combat the challenge posed by innovative American and New World whiskies.

Bottlings launched within the range are described as “unorthodox, weird and wonderful”. While some will be labeled as Scotch whisky when they adhere to industry regulations, others will not be.

“It’s worth stating here that we think the SWA regulations are a good thing,” David Gates, head of premium core spirits at Diageo, said during an investors’ conference next week.

“They give consumers complete reassurance that when they buy a product labelled Scotch whisky, they know exactly what they are getting and that it is of the very highest standard.

“But there is room to play. When our innovations comply completely to the SWA regulations we shall call then Scotch whiskies and when they don’t we won’t.”

Diageo has so-far launched two new brands under the Whiskey Union label, Smoky Goat and Boxing Hares, which are now available in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Vienna.

Smoky Goat (€24) is described as a “smoky sweet” blended Scotch whisky, while Boxing Hares (€22) has been labeled as a “spirit drink” made from Scotch whisky infused with hops.

Planned for release is Huxley – a “unique” blend of Scotch, Canadian and American whiskies. All brands will be launched under a “new business model” at Diageo.

“We believe these brands and a new way of bringing them to market will allow us to reach a new group of people who will not have engaged with whiskey before,” added Gates.

The bottlings, which were created in a space of six months “from concept to launch”, are set to roll out globally following the trial launch in in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Vienna.

“[We] know that these Whiskey Union products may well be quite polarising – and that’s just fine. Some of them will fail – and that’s just fine,” said Gates.

“This concept is about experimenting, testing and giving freedom to our ‘makers’ imaginations and giving our consumers a range of completely different styles and personalities of whiskey.”

In early 2014, Diageo launched its Orphan Barrel whiskey programme – described as a “craft” whiskey project that bottled “forgotten” liquid under a new brand identity.

Leave a Reply

If that's interesting, how about these?

Glasgow's Clydeside Distillery nears completion

Work on Glasgow’s new £10.5 million (US$13.1m) Clydeside Distillery has more...

Baijiu category beats whisky on value

The global baijiu category has overtaken whisky to become the most valuable more...

'Oldest and rarest' Glenmorangie whisky released

Highland single malt Scotch whisky distillery Glenmorangie has released its more...

Giancarlo Mancino launches Tokyo-exclusive vermouth

Bartender and entrepreneur Giancarlo Mancino is extending his Mancino Vermouth more...

Spirit of Speyside to host 'whisky cache'

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival will this year host a geocaching event more...

Buffalo Trace releases four-grain Bourbon

Buffalo Trace Distillery has released a new iteration of its Colonel E.H. more...

Burleighs launches Leicester Dry Gin

UK gin producer Burleighs is set to launch a new variant in homage to the city more...

SWA hails £30bn Scottish trade ambition

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has welcomed a new strategy by the Scottish more...

Work starts on Dublin Liberties Distillery

Quintessential Brands has commenced work converting a historic Dublin building more...

Walsh Whiskey launches Irishman cocktail comp

Walsh Whiskey has partnered with UK importer Emporia Brands to launch its first more...

Whisky workers seek 'honest answers' over Brexit impact

GMB Scotland members from the whisky industry will today meet with more...

Diageo unveils 'industry first' e-learning tool

Diageo has launched a new e-learning tool on its responsible drinking website more...

Devils River Whiskey debuts with grain focus

President of the Texas Distilled Spirits Council Mike Cameron has launched more...

Johnnie Walker rolls out Blenders’ Batch in US

Blended Scotch brand Johnnie Walker is to introduce its “experimental” more...

Brown-Forman bolsters TR whiskey line for IAADFS

Brown-Forman Global Travel Retail has launched recent brand development more...

Rum's renaissance 'a complex picture of growth'

Rum might be the last spirit category to truly go premium, but there’s more...

The week in pictures

This week Javier Bardem took a tour of Speyside's Strathisla Distillery, more...

Baileys makes Almande vegan-friendly

After demand from the vegan community, Diageo has removed beeswax from its more...

Oregon spirits producer buys craft bottler

Oregon-based Eastside Distilling has acquired third party craft spirits more...

Jack Daniel's rolls out Southern Peach RTD

Jack Daniel’s has partnered with R&B singer K Michelle to introduce a new more...