I literally could not be more excited when I read the news about David Beckham, a global sporting, fashion, media and cultural icon known by millions worldwide and a very shrewd businessman putting his name to Haig Club single grain whisky.
In the same vein, I literally could not wait to sit down and write this Haig Club review – alongside some Haig Club musings and thoughts.
This, for me, was Diageo signalling the moment where whisky joined vodka in mega-celebrity design and endorsement in order to attract new female and young consumers in new markets. However, it turns out I’ve ended up writing my Haig Club review with great sadness.
In the run up to the release of the revived Haig Club single grain whisky, I was surprisingly excited, and, after getting my head around the liquid’s proposition, I think they have smashed it out the park.
There are very few times in my whisky writing and brand consulting career that I have been truly impressed with something to the point of actually feeling like the ‘crazy idea’ in a workshop somewhere with Post-Its and flip charts has been pulled off perfectly, but this is, without doubt, one such occasion.
My Haig Club review & thoughts
First we had David Beckham’s involvement in the whisky itself, a major coup for Diageo. Then there was the back story of the brand and whisky itself being iconic, recognisable and inherently valuable as a symbol of whisky tradition.
Then the design, which is a beautiful aspect of this whisky, something that tells me Diageo are talking only to style of substance and doing so very deliberately, and are speaking directly to the inner needs of Millennial gin and vodka consumers – not whisky drinkers, which is definitely an interesting way to go for the brand and portfolio’s recruitment drive.
The bottle is gorgeous, there is no taking that away from them.
The deep blue glass has great shelf stand out and evokes images of aftershave bottles of yesteryear as well as the copper finished stopper which, with some weight to it, is iconic in its own right.
Product details being embossed in the glass is a nice touch and shows a confidence in the whisky to deliver. I love the rounded square nature of it, the weight of the overall bottle and the look of it both on the shelf and in my hand.
My thoughts on other Haig Club reviews
But it really bugs me that other Haig Club reviews have taken to beating up this well thought out whisky so consistently and so often.
It stands for exploration, not for whisky drinkers, collectors, or connoisseurs, but for an up and coming, Millennial, and mostly Asian consumer who is on a journey of flavour exploration like never before, and has more disposable cash than ever before… and are likely to be bored with Vodka & Coke, Vodka Orange etc. – aren’t we all?
This is a sound proposition.
This is a great brand reborn.
This is a modern icon.
This is a global drinks behemoth, Diageo, acknowledging that they cannot just be about stunning single malts and their blended Scotch brilliance, they needed to break ground in other areas of the world and kick start a new sub-category in Scotch.
Just who is Haig Club - the so-called 'David Beckham whisky' - for?
Beginners? Definitely. Those potentially afraid of the traditional whisky codes and cues that stand as a barrier more than an enabler for most? Absolutely. As I’ve already said, this is a whisky for vodka drinkers and gin drinkers, not whisky drinkers.
I do see it as an interesting opportunity for Haig to tempt gin and vodka drinkers to the category. Especially with its use in cocktails, and you never know, it might just encourage exploration through to other products or brands within whisky alongside others in the category such as Douglas Laing’s Single Grain drive towards the end of 2016, and Girvan that has produced a gorgeously branded and packaged product that delivers through the experience too.
My personal opinion is that the design, considered and lovely, is a bold and solid move for a liquid that is at this end of the spectrum. The marketing spend to get David Beckham involved, Gordon Ramsey to cook the launch meal and a host of others on film enjoying it was a smart use of cash. Definitely one for Beckham, Diageo and the Haig Club single grain whisky brand to hang their hats on.
And here’s the thing; I prefer not to mix my whisky, that’s just a personal choice, and if you open your minds and take a few moments and sit with Haig Club and Haig Club Clubman as I have, both with Ewan Gunn and David Beckham himself, you’ll discover that it does stand up on its own, it does deliver a flavour experience – albeit lighter than traditional maltheads would probably be looking for – and when mixed in cocktails delivers something very interesting (although I definitely prefer it neat).
So, whisky bloggers, vloggers and commentators – as we come to the end of my Haig Club review (/rant), I’m really interested to hear what your thoughts are on Haig Club and what I’ve said here… leave a comment below and we can discuss.