A £4 million ad campaign will back the launch of the new variant, named Bell's Original, which will be available from September at the same price as the 8-Year-Old (rrp £13.84).
For the first time since 2005, Bell’s will be advertised on TV in October, and a direct mail drop will also target 250,000 regular whisky drinkers. Arthur Bell, who established the brand in 1825, will feature on the bottle’s revamped label and in the TV ad.
The updated blend, which has a higher proportion of malt than grain and has seen more new oak maturation, has more “freshness and vibrancy”, according to master blender Jim Beveridge.
James Pennefather, Diageo GB whisky brand director, added: “The age is one of the indicators of quality when it comes to Scotch. What we have found in the standard blended Scotch category is that the 8-Year-Old isn’t quite a deluxe like the 10 or 12-Year-0ld. It doesn’t give freedom to the blenders and there are more opportunities to be creative with the whisky used to create the blends when you don't have the age statement.”
As part of Diageo’s push to widen the occasions when blended whisky can be drunk, Bell’s Original will be marketed as an aperitif drunk straight and as a match to mixers such as ginger ale.
Pennefather said: “We’ve seen a big growth in blended Scotch in the pre-dinner drinking occasion, which accounts for 30% of the total blended Scotch volume. We see that trend increasing and Bell's new fresher taste makes it even better as a pre-dinner drink.”