Haig Club – A New Direction?

This summer Diageo has started the launch of its new Haig Club brand though it’s not yet available in all markets. Is it a malt or a blend? Actually it’s a single grain from Cameronbridge.

There are some other recent grain expressions but this isn’t simply a “me too” from Diageo. These things take a long time in the planning, recipe refinement, packaging and communication. They’d been working on it for over two years. At the preview session for writers and other experts in February, we were also treated to a fascinating session about Diageo’s grain distilleries and the distillation.

Haig Club is partnering with David Beckham, who will promote responsible drinking, as an ambassador for the brand. It comes in a very stylish cobalt blue bottle, fitting its target of design-conscious younger drinkers, mainly men 25 -32 and aimed at restaurants and high-end bars with a few top retailers included. A “recruitment” drink. Key countries are UK, France, Germany, USA, Brazil, Greater China and Taiwan.  It’s intended to bring people into the whisky fold without the traditional trappings that often put them off whisky. However, this is not whisky lite in any way.

As someone who thinks / learns about whisky every day, it’s a very tasty drink. The beauty of it is that it’s great as a mixer or cocktail base and still a grown-up drink which would also be good on its own at any time of day or year. Good with ice or from the freezer – that’ll make the old guys in kilts apoplectic! I’m all for myth-busting around whisky. There’s more info on www.haigclub.com .

So what does it taste like? The final product is at 40% vol and there are notes of milk chocolate digestives and pineapple juice on the nose with a hint of citrus zest; some lychee, pepper and allspice, herbs, oak and caramel (my notes). While fresh, light and herbal, it also has a slightly unctuous mouthfeel which adds to the positive experience. It’s been matured in predominantly refill bourbon casks alongside some fresh and rejuvenated ones. Quite simply, it’s smooth yet alive with flavour.

If you serve a lot of customers in that target market, I’d urge you to try it and encourage your customers to experiment. Would be interested to know through this WA website what you bar and restaurant professionals think of it.

Cheers till August.

© Caroline Dewar 2014.


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