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Updated: July 12, 2013 19:30 IST

Vying for a piece of the pie

Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty
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Presenting class: David Robertson, brand ambassador of The Dalmore Constellation Collection of Whyte & Macay, at the Delhi Duty Free.
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Presenting class: David Robertson, brand ambassador of The Dalmore Constellation Collection of Whyte & Macay, at the Delhi Duty Free.

With India catching the fancy of global whiskey makers, more and more select collections are coming our way. So here is ace master blender David Robertson with the Dalmore collection from Whyte and Mackay, now available at the Delhi Duty Free

This is leading master blender David Robertson’s first whiff of the Indian whiskey market and he seems to be already preparing his next visit to the country. “The trip has definitely increased my knowledge, widened my understanding (of the market) and inspired a much greater ambition (in me) for what we can achieve and I look forward to my next visit very soon,” says Robertson, one of the prominent faces of the Glasgow-based scotch whiskey brand Whyte & Mackay.

Robertson is the Brand Ambassador for the Dalmore Constellation Collection of Whyte and Mackay. The company has just partnered with the Delhi Duty Free to launch the collection and Robertson is to introduce it to potential Indian buyers. “The Dalmore Constellation Collection is a unique selection of single cask, cask strength whiskies selected by Richard Paterson (yet another ace master blender of Whyte & Mackay) from our oldest, rarest and most delicious stocks,” he states. The oldest cask, he fills in, “was filled in 1964 and bottled last year. The youngest cask dates to 1992.”

The years seem to have worked on the collection pretty well. “Each whiskey has a distinctive colour, aroma, flavour and mouth feel from the many years spent maturing in our bespoke casks — from Spain, America, France and other parts of the world. Each cask forges the soul of the whiskey and Richard has decided to bottle its precious contents — the aged single malt whiskey — at natural cask strength, without the addition of any water, ensuring that connoisseurs can enjoy the whiskey straight from the wood,” claims Robertson.

The company has already noticed, “The Dalmore collection enjoying incredible growth, both in the mature and emerging markets, as connoisseurs, collectors and investors find single malt, and The Dalmore in particular, an attractive single malt to acquire.”

“From a very small base we now release around 65,000 cases per annum and are in the fortunate position of being able to continue to grow dynamically. However, we will never compromise on quality and we would rather sell better quality and less volume,” he assures. With a distillery built in 1839 and being in the profession of whiskey brewing for “many, many years”, Robertson calls his company “merely custodians of the whiskey.”

The global travel retail/duty free outlets in the USA, U.K. and France are Whyte & Mackay’s largest market. “We are now seeing dynamic growth in Russia, China and India,” he underlines. And that is why it has partnered with Delhi Duty Free “after much research.”

And it seemed to be the right choice. “Just a few weeks after launching the collection, Delhi Duty Free has sold two of our rarest vintages.” Given that the company only releases around 1,500 cases per annum to its global partners, he says, “It is key that we identify the right partners in the right markets with the necessary ambition and skills to deliver consumer sales success.” Giving the bottles an elegant display that invites potential buyers to interact with their aroma vials and iPads, and the specially trained staff, is the key marketing focus.

But some things seem to be working for Robertson already. “We have found to our delight that the sophisticated palates of Indian connoisseurs embrace our rich, spicy and citrus orange style of Highland single malt,” he says. Apart from “the plan to grow business in the travel/retail market,” it has a plan to enter “the domestic markets in key urban areas of India.”

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