The Adelaide Show Podcast putting South Australian passion on centre stage

295 – Whisky Marketing Masterclass

A whisky marketing masterclass with Mike Collings on The Adelaide Show Podcast with Steve Davis

In this week’s episode of The Adelaide Show, we are having a whisky marketing masterclass, and we’re doing so with Mike Collings, the man who helped the world develop an appreciation for single malt whisky and high pedigree blends – you see a lot of his work in duty free stores. He is also founder of Spencer Collings & Co. Ltd.

This week, the SA Drink Of The Week is Firkin Islay.

And in the Musical Pilgrimage, we hear a song by local band, Lazy Eye.

Adelaide Fringe: Steve is in two shows in the 2020 Fringe and would love to have you join him.
Innuendo Everywhere: Becky Blake and Steve Davis do it
2 Cats Drove Into The Cuckoos Nest

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Running Sheet: Whisky Marketing Masterclass

00:00:00 Intro 
00:02:10 SA Drink Of The Week
Firkin Islay is the SA Drink Of The Week. This is available through Spencer Collings, The Odd Whisky Coy, and Hains and Co.
00:08:10 Mike Collings

I remember my first whisky was a Glenfiddich because walking through Duty Free at Heathrow I saw that it was endorsed by Queen Elizabeth II and I thought, well, it must be alright. I then had my first whisky in a bar in Washington DC with a good friend of mine, and I thought that having a neat shot of whisky was a sign of coming-of-age. It turns out that there were marketing people behind the scenes creating stories and labels to craft a culture of whisky appreciation, and one of them was Mike Collings.

Mike, when you heard me share how impressionable 25-year-old me was upon seeing the Royal Mark on Glenfiddich and deciding to buy, does that surprise you, appall you, or make you just nod your head with understanding?

Do you remember the first whisky you ever tasted?

Let’s go back to 1971 when you started in wines and spirits. Who were you working for and what did you work on?

Southern Comfort and Jack Daniels. Two drinks that make my stomach churn. How did you manage to get them selling at a price equivalent to Johnnie Black?

Glenfarclas, Glen Grant, and Glenlivet – how did these glens come to be part of your life?

Let’s move into the world of Diageo. You were on the executive team for Baileys and Johnnie Walker. At the Hains & Co event last week, you mentioned how you helped develop Johnnie Green, Gold, and Blue. I know Diageo is a very thorough company, so can you take us through the thinking process and discussions and journey that led to these premium whiskies?

How do these companies make whisky on scale? There have to be some tricks?

Are their constraints to world production capacity?

I’ve heard stories that as China develops a taste for whisky, we’ll basically lose access to much of it?

And is Scotland running out of peat?

You left Diageo in 2005 and became a boutique malt whisky and whisky consultant in the UK, Australia, Japan, NZ, and Finland. What’s the difference between malt whisky and whisky and what’s a day in the life of such a consultant like?

So, it must be satisfying to think you helped develop new flavour dimensions in Scotch whisky, especially through The Classic Malts.

Are you loved or feared in Scotland – I am curious as to how they took advice from an outsider?

You emigrated to Adelaide in 2009. Why?

Before I get to your current projects, I have some questions from listeners:

Joe Evans, winemaker from Ballycroft: Have a wee bottle of Glenfiddich 15yr distillery edition at a higher 51% Alc. Quote on the back of the box. ” by bottling at a higher strength, our Malt Master can showcase and accentuate the unique floral flavors and intense, lingering spicy pepper aromas. Question does the higher Alcohol make it more flavoursome ie better than a 40% Alc whisky. ?
Will it get better in the bottle ie like good wine. Joe

Joe sent another question in via Instagram (I think you have a fan, or he was drinking at the time): How does ice bruise a whiskey? Why is the little dash of rain water to Amber gold help opens all goodness in a wee dram?

Rob Newman: Does expensive always mean it tastes best?

Does age always mean it tastes best?

And my friend Rob has in the past bought older bottles of red label and they’ve been off. Firstly, should I stay friends with someone who buys red label? And secondly what is the ideal length of time for keeping something like that?

What is the smartest way to enjoy whisky?

Now, tell me about a conversation that led you to creating some Farkin good whisky and setting the Imperial Tribute.

What is the mission of Spencer Collings & Co Ltd?

And can you tell me about Loch Dhu, the first black whisky.

00:50:15 Musical Pilgrimage
In the musical pilgrimage, we have a track called Whisky and Gin by Lazy Eye.
Upcoming Lazy Eye dates in Adelaide are:
Nov 23rd – Port Noarlunga Blues Festival
Nov 29th – BrickRoom Blues (City)

Here’s this week’s preview video.

SFX: Throughout the podcast we use free sfx from for the harp, the visa stamp, the silent movie music, the stylus, the radio signal sfx, the wine pouring and cork pulling sfx, and the swooshes around Siri.

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