In summary, the invite went a little like this: “Quick one Greg, fancy a dram with David Beckham in Covent Garden?” “YES! YES! YES!” I practically screamed back. Once I had calmed down, I asked when, where and about the format and proceeded to clear my calendar to ensure I was available.
Well, despite being a life-long Liverpool fan, and season ticket holder; I admire and respect the talent of Beckham, the business empire that he and his wife have built and the positivity he inspires and exudes in all he does. He is a national treasure, a British Icon, and to be able to speak with him, understand his passion behind Haig Club and the journey he has been on was fascinating.
The event started with Ewan Gunn and David Sinclair introducing Haig Club and Haig Club Clubman, giving an overview on how the product had been designed to disrupt the industry, to get people thinking differently about Scotch whisky and to be a more approachable gateway to whisky with its more approachable and subtle style.
And this is the crux of the whole Haig Club brand proposition. It is not a whisky designed for the connoisseur, nor the collector or the experienced whisky drinker, it is a whisky for new whisky drinkers to build confidence and begin to understand a new category of drink that they might otherwise have overlooked.
Ewan was at pains to point out that despite the striking blue bottle we all know as Haig Club now, the brand actually dates back nearly four hundred years, is one of the oldest in distilling history and has the substance to back up the style.
Then, after a pour of Haig Club Clubman neat, and one mixed with Diet Coke, David Beckham was introduced and over the next forty minutes or so the group listened intently as David spoke about whisky, football, retirement and a few other subjects along the way.
Here’s the five whisky insights I learned whilst having a dram with David Beckham
1. David has wanted to be a whisky drinker for years
During his playing days he was understandably not a drinker, but always thought of whisky as being something he always aspired to drink, “I always wanted to be a whisky drinker, and now I appreciate that when you get the right whisky it really is a joy”.
2. The Haig Club collaboration is a true partnership “not just an endorsement”
David was clear about this being a partnership, repeating that it was “not just an endorsement” as he explained having a hand in virtually every element of the product in one way or another, “I’m sure Diageo thought I was a pain at times”.
3. Food and whisky are two of David’s post-football passions
I was fortunate to be able to ask David a question about his favourite experiences along the way to which he told of how his love of food which links nicely to his journey with whisky, and how he has enjoyed various pairings over the last couple of years with Haig Club, especially Asian food on his and Diageo’s epic tour of the Far East when launching Haig Club.
4. David has a small whisky collection at home
Not too many bottles, but a few, we were told, “I don’t so much have a bar at home but a cabinet”… including that 40 Year Old Haig Club 1 of 1 he was presented with for his 40th birthday, I’m sure!
“This is something I came into straight from retirement, whilst I was playing I could not work with an alcohol brand but this was lined up for when I retired”. And David has loved working with Diageo along the way too, saying “this has been a very good partnership so far and will continue, Diageo are not just a great brand but they have great people who work for them.”
Once the talk concluded I beelined over to David for the obligatory selfie and enjoyed a Haig Club Clubman and ginger ale. A thoroughly nice afternoon.