On a lovely summer’s night last week, myself and my fiancé were lucky enough to attend the Singleton Night Market in London, one of a few events to launch their two new single malt expressions; Tailfire and Sunray.
I must admit I did not know what to expect other than maybe some stalls, some whisky and some enjoyment, what I did enjoy on the night was much more than that.
It took a while for me to really get into the swing of things as I am used to whisky events being free-flowing and aimed at those in the know, sometimes even connoisseurs…
But this event was wonderfully different.
There was a clear notion here to garner intrigue and interest from a younger, more feminine consumer in an effort to drive engagement and consideration for whisky amongst a new demographic.
This all tracks with the global shift in consumer dynamic with younger people looking to whisky at earlier than previous generations to expand their repertoire whilst showing their increase in social status.
There was a touch of the patronising though as there was an undertone of ‘to recruit women into the category we need to infuse single malt with fruit and only talk about it in terms of being in cocktails’ which I patently do not agree with; I think clearer communication and demystification of the previously old fashioned stuffiness would do wonders for all brands targeting all consumers.
That aside, the whole event was fantastic.
The Singleton Night Market space itself was brilliant, located on the Southbank overlooking The Thames, there were lots of long benches dressed to reflect the tasting notes of each of the two new single malts, and I have to say they did an incredible job.
Near the entrance, the Singleton brand ambassador explained to eager samplers the difference between types of oak, why there was no age statement and guided each person through the expected tasting notes from each of the new whiskies. Elsewhere there was a Diageo mixologist teaching groups of punters how to make cocktails with the new single malts.
As you ventured further into the Singleton Night Market you were treated to a fish dog, yes a fish hot dog, from the ever-fantastic chaps at Hix, whisky-infused marshmallows (pretty cool), donuts with salted caramel sauce and whisky inspired chocolate and cheese.
All of these samplings led to some really interesting pairings that definitely made you think about the different ways to enjoy whisky and to think outside the glass.
The biggest draw was The Thinking Drinker who educated sets of attendees on the beginnings of whisky, the claim of the Irish over the great drink and gave a humorous insight into why these products have been released and why they are relevant to the emerging consumers we are seeing within the whisky category as it becomes more accessible.
A really interesting talk that was incredibly well pitched in, and rewarded those who listened with another sampling of either of the new whiskies.
If I was being hyper-critical and sometimes I need to be in order to remain balanced and opinionated, it did seem at times that the event dumbed down the craftsmanship, the longevity of maturation, the love and the care that goes into creating any form of whisky. In my opinion the focus being on cocktails, mixing and food pairings is all well and good but not at the detriment of what underpins everything we hold true as whisky drinkers. But it really did work as a format to introduce the disengaged target drinkers to the category, will be interesting to see how it all pans out.