Thresher shuns regionality to push malt whisky by flavour

05 October, 2007

Break with tradition as Wine Rack follows up on marketing pilot scheme

Wine Rack is to merchandise its malt whiskies by taste.

In a move to demystify the category, the Thresher Group shops will divide the updated, 40-strong malt range into three flavour profiles - sweet and light, fruity and rich, and smoky and peaty.

The traditional approach of merchandising malts by region can, says spirits buyer Sam Hanvey, be confusing.

Hanvey said: "If it comes from a particular place you expect it to have particular attributes. It makes it easier to shop if you understand these flavours. Region is an important aspect but most people don't know what it means and it makes it really difficult to navigate their way around."

An entire bay dedicated to malts will be introduced in 279 Wine Rack stores from this week. "We're giving it a shop-within-a-shop feel with a premium look," Hanvey added.

The largest flavour profile will be fruity and rich, consisting of 20 malts. The sweet and light and smoky and peaty profiles will each feature 10 malts.

The nationwide roll-out follows a trial in 80 Wine Rack stores earlier this year when malt sales grew 8 per cent, ahead of a market which is up almost 6 per cent by value.

Shelf-edge barkers will feature tasting notes written by whisky expert Dave Broom, who helped develop the classifications, and a newly-launched or rare malt will be on price promotion every six weeks. This month, First Drinks Brands' Monkey Shoulder is in the spotlight with a price tag of £17.99.

From January, branch managers will have training hosted by master distillers on specific malts. Wine Rack has plans to review its range of blended and exported whiskies at the beginning of next year, Hanvey said.

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