Whiskey Madness

Bizarre Whiskey products for that special drinker in your life.

Caskers is an online craft spirits purveyor whose mission is to promote and sell some very interesting and unique artisanal brands, especially whiskies.

In an elaborate April Fool’s joke, they introduced Whiskey Life, The Ultimate Guide for the Whiskey Lifestyle.  

The collection (#WhiskeyLife) contains some fun items that every whiskey drinker needs, such as: a drone to deliver your favorite libation no matter where you are; an app that let’s you know whether to pursue a relationship with the person you just met at a bar; a chiller that gets rid of the need for ice, using your smart phone instead.

My favorites are the whiskey flavored toothpaste and mouthwash. It’s billed as: “Enjoy all the benefits of traditional mouthwash with the added flavor of whiskey. No spitting required!”


How the idea came about

Based on the years spent watching R&D folks do their magic, I envision this scenario:

DENNIS: (Panting) I got it, I got it… you won’t believe it.

MARION: What do you have? I hope it’s for Project X.

DENNIS: Project X? What I have is far better than that! I’ve been working on it on my own for five years and I had a break through!

MARION: Listen to me. I need those products for a new line of personal care items and I need them soon. Why are you working on anything else?

DENNIS: It’s a great idea and could be a part of Project X.

MARION: (Sighs) Okay, what is it… and it better be good. 

DENNIS: Project X is based on new and unique products. Right? How about this…

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Do different types of liquor have different effects on you?

liquor bottles 2Fact or fiction? Physiological or psychological?

What do you think?

I’ve been researching this topic lately and have been thinking about it ever since I got into the booze business.

When you talk to consumers, many have clear cut answers such as, “tequila makes me crazy,” “whiskey makes me angry,” “gin makes me sad, must be the junipers.” My favorite, that I found online, is… “I’m allergic to tequila. Last time I drank it, I broke out in handcuffs.”

Whether in focus groups or with friends, these beliefs are strongly held and generally tied back to a memorable occasion. Usually, it’s based on a particular episode of, ahem, being over-served or the maiden drinking voyage. But, misconceptions play a big role – there is nothing in juniper to lead to sadness and even if there were, the distillation process would eliminate it. Similarly, the agave plant from which mescal is distilled (tequila is a type of mescal) has nothing to do with mescaline.Alcohol is alcohol

Sorry folks, alcohol is alcohol. The differences one experiences from different types of liquor (and alcohol in general) have, in my opinion, little or nothing to do with the liquor itself. There are many other factors at work.

What about the congeners (the substance produced during fermentation of alcoholic beverages)? While red wine and dark spirits have the greatest amount, they are present to different degrees in white spirits. They also are more related to the morning after than getting you to slur, “I love you man” during an evening’s indulgence.

How about the mixers used as a possible explanation for the difference? Tequila is consumed as a shot half the time and with sugar laden margarita …

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New product failures I have known – Old Breed

I thought I would look at some world-class new product failures and see if there is some learning behind what happened. Let’s start with Old Breed.

When I arrived at Seagram the product was in a few markets and was failing miserably. The premise was interesting. The owner, aware of ‘shot and a beer’ consumption, decided that a beer flavored whiskey was a good idea and pushed for it.

I suppose that the equivalency issue also had a role to play. A blurring of the lines between beer and spirits sort of makes them equivalent from a product standpoint and flies in the face of the lack of equivalency in excise taxes.

Finally, beer flavored whiskey was seen as a novel new product idea.

The product failed on all counts. Wanting a shot of whiskey with a beer chaser is not the same as a whiskey that tastes like beer. There are expectations about the taste of a shot with a beer that can’t be met with a bottled version. Even if the product tasted great, it can’t replicate the fresh version – much less with a product that tasted like stale beer.

Everyone knew this, I learned when I got there, but no one wanted to tell the emperor that his baby was ugly (to mix metaphors).

So the product limped along until a trade researcher interviewed a retailer who went ballistic when asked about Old Breed as in, “tell them to get this crap out of here.”

What I love about market research is that political correctness has little to no role to play in providing information. As a result, the owner learned what the management team …

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