New Booze Products: Brilliant and Dumb

Wine and Spirits Daily had two announcements about new spirits product recently. One makes sense and the other, well, you decide.

Highlander honeyGood Idea

The flavored whiskey category has been on fire with brands like Wild Turkey American Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, and Jim Beam Red Stag among others. Now the folks from Dewar’s Scotch (owned by Bacardi) are entering the flavored whisk(e)y category with Highlander Honey, a scotch infused with honey.

Imagine, they have the audacity to try to break down the stuffiness and out-of-date sacred walls of the blended scotch category. Never mind that blended scotch growth has been declining to flat in the past decade while other whiskies (including malts) have been growing. It’s not about adapting to changing tastes, it’s about a stiff upper lip refusing to swallow change.

Check this out. The Diageo head of whisky outreach (huh? I think that’s a way of saying, ‘can I buy you a drink?’), was quoted as saying Scotch has too much “integrity” and “authenticity” to get into flavors. Diageo and integrity in the same sentence? My word! Also, the Scotch Whiskey Association is not very happy about it. Better to go down with the ship, eh, what?

Hey, it’s a good idea for the reasons I shared with Wine and Spirits Daily,

“It’s a terrific idea and well worth trying,” long-time industry exec Arthur Shapiro told WSD. ” First, the blended scotch market is declining and this could be a shot in the arm. Second, the flavored whiskey (US) brands have ‘greased the skids’ so consumer acceptance would be easier than it might have been before these brands came on the market. Third, it adds contemporariness to the scotch area and removes the stuffiness. Fourth, probably makes for a good mixed drink. Finally, I like the ‘seriousness’ of scotch and the fun of a flavored scotch product.”

Put that in your copper still and cook it.

Mama WalkerYou gotta be kidding me

Pernod Ricard, who until recently earned my respect for terrific innovations and new products, has launched what seems to be an April Fool’s joke.

They are introducing a line of new products under the Hiram Walker name called Mama Walker’s breakfast liqueurs. Apparently it’s intended to “tap into the comfort food, sweet and savory flavor combinations” trend (or is it fad?) not to mention the confectionary/cake vodka flavors. This breakfast of champions is available in Maple Bacon, Blueberry Pancake and Glazed Donut.

Come on folks, are you serious? Next thing you’re going to tell us is that they hardly taste artificial.

Can’t you just see the ad campaign?

“A bit hung over from a hard night of drinking? Looking for something to smooth out the rough edges? Forget about the all night diner and the bacon, eggs and pancake special. Try some of Mama Walker’s breakfast liqueurs… we’ll perk you right up with our original comfort booze. Just remember… your Mama knows best.”


“Tired of the same old breakfast? Cereal, eggs or fruit can be soooo boring… Start you day off right with Mama Walker’s breakfast liqueurs. What a great way to face the stress of what awaits you. Boss on your back? Kids on your nerves? Mama can help…Comes with or without a brown paper bag… But, remember, don’t eat breakfast and drive!”

Any thoughts on either product?


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  1. I agree, I applaud Dewar’s for having some fun with blended Scotch. And honey is a natural note to bring out, as well as a trend within the broader whisk(e)y category. There was a time when Johnnie Walker Gold (delicious) was marketed for having honey notes and recommended served frozen with a bite of chocolate. So I say put aside the stuffy, clubby old-school mystique or worse the pretentious, lofty single-malt snobbery and have a little fun with flavors….

    Which brings me to your second entery….. Where will flavor madness end? This really seems to pander to Af-Am stereotypes and is at best a pathetic novelty. It’s just terrifying, and so full of chemicals it must taste like hairspray. However, as long as folks are having fun with this *&%$ then I expect the innovations to keep o’ comin’.

  2. Seem to recall the honey NPD idea for scotch was under consideration with our former friends at Chivas Bros. Perhaps before it’s time??

  3. Remember Heublein’s “Hereford Cows”? That was a concept that was a bridge too far for many, back in the 70’s. Five minutes of fame, then oblivion. Not surprising that wholesalers and retailers take some persuading to support producers’ more whacky new brand concepts. They’ve been burnt too often. On the other hand, no one wants to miss out on the next “Baileys Irish Cream”, which was pretty similar to Hereford Cows, but in more traditional looking beverage alcohol packaging. Getting the product and the packaging in sync is the trick. I’m with Arthur; I will be amazed if Mama Walker’s Breakfast Liqueurs lasts a year. Meantime, it risks bringing the industry into disrepute with its enemies.

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