Beckham and his manager Simon Fuller will work alongside Diageo to develop the branding of the new whisky, Haig Club.
But Emily Robinson, deputy chief executive at anti-alcohol charity Alcohol Concern, said: “It’s incredibly disappointing that David Beckham, a global icon who has wide appeal to children, has chosen to use his sports star image to promote spirits.
“Given David Beckham’s other roles promoting sport and a healthy lifestyle to children, we believe this will send a confusing message to them about the dangers of alcohol and its impact on a healthy lifestyle, and we call on the star to rethink his association with this product.”
Diageo said: ‘”We and David Beckham take our responsibility in this area very seriously. David will lead the promotion of the responsible drinking programme. We have always been completely clear in our view that alcohol should only be consumed by adults and we do not want underage drinkers as consumers.”
Its chief global marketing officer Syl Saller believes the partnership with Beckham will cement Scotch whisky’s position as “the most vibrant” spirits category.
She added: “Consumers are constantly searching for new and different tastes and experiences and they are especially excited by those that come from authentic, heritage brands. And Haig Club certainly ticks those boxes. Throughout his career, David Beckham has been at the forefront of emerging trends and rewritten the rules of what it means to be a modern sportsman and businessman, and we are pleased he has decided to turn his hand to Scotch.”
In a statement Beckham said: “The House of Haig has a rich history and I’m proud to be working at the heart of a home-grown brand which has built an incredible heritage over 400 years. Working closely with Diageo, we look forward to collaborating on Haig Club, valuing and treasuring the Haig traditions while reinventing this whisky for years to come.”
Haig Club has been crafted using grain whisky from three types of cask to create a fresh, smooth liquid that showcases butterscotch and toffee.
Single grain whisky lags far behind blended Scotch and single malt in sales, but William Grant launched Girvan Patent Still single grain last year to bring the niche category to the masses, and Diageo said it now believes that 2014 will be the year “that grain whisky breaks into the mainstream and gains the recognition it deserves”.
Fuller said: “This is a long term commitment. It is important to us that we create something unique and of great quality. With Haig Club we have an opportunity to push boundaries and help shape how Scotch will be perceived in the future, it’s an exciting proposition. We could not wish for a better partner than Diageo.”
Haig Club will be launched later in the year and Diageo