Why do Whisky brands celebrate disaster?

let’s begin

There are some people that just want to watch the world burn. And Whisky brands are those kind of people.

Ok so that might be a slight exaggeration, but they certainly do spend a lot of time celebrating disasters.

From hurricanes and tornados to falling buildings and barrel mix ups, Whisky brands everywhere see these terrible situations a great way to market their malt.

The beauty of unfortunate events is that they make products stand out as rare or limited editions.

While there are many things that exist at the time of great disasters, few are affected in quite the same way as Whisky.

Whisky soaks up the air of its environment and can spend decades in a barrel.  This means that whatever is going outside the barrel, will have a direct effect on what is going on inside the barrel.

One of the best examples of this is the E. H. Taylor Warehouse C Tornado Surviving expression.

This recounts the time a tornado ripped off the roof of Warehouse C at the Buffalo Trace Distillery.  The Whiskey aging inside was meant to be used for the E. H. Taylor brand, but instead was left in the hot Kentucky sun to continue aging.

This resulted in massive losses of around 63% per barrel to the Angel’s share, but also gave the producers the chance to market this as something different from the every day E. H. Taylor brand.

This is how Warehouse C Tornado Surviving E. H. Taylor came about, first selling for around $75 but now going for up to $1000.

A similar situation also occurred at Glenfiddich Distillery in 2010, only this time it was the result of cold weather.

Scotland is renowned for it’s cold weather and in 2010 there was an incredible amount of snowfall, particularly in the Speyside area.

Glenfiddich felt the brunt of this snowfall, especially when some of their warehouse roofs collapsed under four feet of snow.

This of course left the barrels at the mercy of the cold Scottish air, which in turn gave Glenfiddich’s Malt Master an epiphany.

With the marrying of Oloroso and American Oak casks, Snow Phoenix was born.  It has been a success and like the Tornado in Kentucky, is a fantastic example of how such disasters can be turned into marketing marvels.

There are also certain situations that come about due to human error.  This is perhaps best epitomised by Wild Turkey Forgiven.

When a barrel of high proof Rye was accidently poured into a vat of Bourbon that had already aged 6 years, Master Distiller Eddie Russell should probably have been devastated.

But instead he took a swig of the stuff and decided it was actually pretty impressive, which is lucky for the unfortunate employee who happened to pour the barrel in.

Russell told her she was “forgiven” and the Whiskey was christened the same and is released yearly to commemorate a huge mistake that turned into a huge success.

So the next time a huge disaster happens in your life, think about how Whisky brands turn their problems into successes, and maybe you could do the same!

Tags: disasterGlenfiddichWhiskyWhisky Brands


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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