Recently I had the good fortune to go to the opening of the Glenfiddich Gallery, a new website from the always-innovative single malt brand that allows whisky connoisseurs and gifters alike to answer a few simple questions in order to find their perfect single malt, and then personalise the labels and packaging.
What started as one of the nicest and most considered press invites I’ve ever received (see photos), only got better and better the more time you got into the whole experience.
The event itself was surprisingly well populated with William Grant and Sons top brass, from Stella David (CEO) to Kirsten Grant Meikle (William Grant’s great great grand daughter), to Peter Grant Gordon (ex-chairman), to the legend that is Brian Kinsman (Master Distiller) and of course Ian Millar (global brand ambassador for Glenfiddich who should need no further introduction).
Only open for two days, the space had been carefully crafted to bring taste profiles to life with superb wall graphics, give a tease of the super premium range with example ‘exhibit’ bottles along the wall, all called out with gorgeous bold colours and of course a back wall racked up with countless sample bottles of these incredible single malts.
The evening was opened by master of ceremonies Ian Millar introducing the concept, followed by an empowering speech from Stella talking through the excitement and innovation that has led to the launch of the Glenfiddich Gallery.
Kirsten then took us through a very impassioned explanation of the concept, using her immense experience in the wine trade to talk through why these things are important. She noted that ’sometimes we just experiment and see what happens’ and highlighting that these liquids are exceptionally rare and could not be produced or released in commercial quantities so the gallery idea became the best way to get them to market, and in the hands of the people who would appreciate and enjoy them the most.
Brian Kinsman then took the stage to guide us through two exceptional whiskies from the 36 currently available on the site.
“The idea of the Glenfiddich Gallery is to take you on a journey through our warehouses to unlock a world of incredible flavour and exclusivity,” says Kinsman. “Here you can access some of our finest private collection whiskies, which I’m delighted to share for the first time.”
To give some more context around the Glenfiddich Gallery, the website features 36 different whiskies priced from £390 for a 1996 refill oak expression to £100,000 for a 1958 Glenfiddich aged in a sherry butt (this one, called Grant Red, is limited to just three bottles).
The site works by getting users to answer questions on their taste profile; do you prefer red or white wine, are you sweet or savoury, are you succulent or zesty, are you intense or floral.
From the answers you give, the site emails you your bespoke flavour profile, mine was intense and fruity (have been called worse) and then guides you to the bottles that are most relevant to your taste.
From here you choose the box colour, the label highlight colour and also any copy you want (like a gift message or dedication) on both the box label and bottle label as well as a brass plaque on the inside of the box.
A fantastic concept, one that will live online until ’there are no more bottles’ and guarantees that you will have your very own bespoke whiskies from some of the rarest liquids from the Glenfiddich Gallery stockpile of magic.
Every attendee was encouraged to have a go on the taste profiler and had a 5cl bottle of the chosen liquid bottled and personally labelled.
Part of the evening also included a special invitation for a very select few, of which I was honoured to be one, to enter Brian’s ‘whisky cave’ where he had bottles drawn from each of these super rare casks for us to sample and to chat through the whole concept with him.
We discussed how the Scotch whisky market had been taken unaware recently when the news of Japan winning World Whisky of the Year broke, personally I think it is the kick up the posterior the Scotch market needs to focus on the consumer and moving with the times instead of proudly posturing about how great they have all been for so long.
Really incredible liquids and great to see Glenfiddich at the forefront, as usual, of innovation and design-thinking in the whisky industry.
Thank you very much to Glenfiddich for the invitation, I truly felt privileged.