On Location: Maker’s Mark launches London-exclusive bourbon at LHR

By Benedict Evans |

Maker's Mark

The launch is supported by an experiential activation at Heathrow T5, which is running from 28 February until 26 March.

Having already launched city-specific editions for New York, Sydney, Singapore and Frankfurt, Maker’s Mark has now launched the London edition of its Wood Finishing City Series.

Each of the several editions is bottled at 54.45% AVB, limited to 720 bottles, and retails at $95 for a 700ml bottle. It is available exclusively at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 in partnership with Avolta.

“This collection has really resonated with international travellers all around the world,” said Manuel Gonzalez, Brand Marketing Director Global Travel Retail, Beam Suntory, adding: “Our goal is to build Maker’s Mark into a global US whisky icon, and pioneering new product development and consumer-first brand experiences will play a key role in achieving this objective.”

The launch is supported by an experiential activation at Heathrow T5, which is running from 28 February until 26 March.

Key features include a tasting bar and sampling, merchandising and brand imagery, tastemaker information, uniformed Maker’s Mark ambassadors and screen-printed tote bags.

Taste over time

“Maker’s Mark is aged to taste, not time,” said Vincent Doutreleau, Brand Manager Global Travel Retail at Beam Suntory, adding: “Our target audience, especially for the Wood Finishing Series, is very bourbon-savvy, so launching in a city like London with its strategic position within GTR and solid mix of nationalities, was an easy decision.”

Speaking on behalf of Avolta, Paul Martin, Category Manager for Liquor in the UK commented: “At Avolta, and within our World Duty Free stores, we strive to deliver unique products and immersive experiences that really engage and inspire our customers.

“This striking activation with its tasting bar, impactful brand imagery, and its strong sense of place with the release of this London Edition in exclusive partnership with us, will certainly capture travellers’ interest.”

Maker's Mark

Maker’s Mark’s Wood Finishing Series is unique for the mix of staves used in the distillation process; sourced from an independent staves company in Kentucky (the home of Maker’s Mark), staves are the planks of wood which comprise a whisky barrel and impart upon the liquid its distinct taste.

For London this meant selecting staves which allowed the distillers to develop within the whisky a host of olfactory scents and flavours, including: buttercream; toasted vanilla; orange peel, maple, caramel vanilla bean and even tobacco.

The London edition was designed in collaboration with chef Douglas McMaster, owner of zero-waste restaurant Silo; and Ryan Chetiyawardana, an internationally renowned bartender. Both are long-time partners of Maker’s Mark, and were called upon to contribute towards that which would eventually constitute the London-specific bourbon.

“Building on the Maker’s Mark character, we looked to balance deep spice with something more fleeting, floral and elegant – to have something that was simultaneously bold yet elegant,” said McMaster, adding: “This comes through in its signature character, so to be able to marry this with a place that is so important to me – and to be able to do this with one of my dearest friends, and someone I admire hugely from a professional point of view – was incredible.”

Ryan Chetiyawardana (left) and Douglas McMaster (right) have collaborated with Maker’s Mark for several years. They are the latest duo asked by Maker’s Mark to help craft its Wood Finishing Series.

Doutreleau said the New York edition was a standout in terms of the speed at which stock was sold, though each had been well received.

He also hinted at interesting consumer trends across the five international hubs Maker’s Mark chose for the limited edition series; beyond the most prominent demographic of consumers (US) the region-specific series was increasingly popular with Indian and Middle Eastern travellers.

“Innovation resonates with customers,” he said, noting: “It’s key for the travel retail market too, because it’s all about regional comparison and triggering the appetite for purchase.”

READ MORE: Beam Suntory FY23 results reveal strong GTR performance in Asia

READ MORE: Maker’s Mark releases Wood Finishing Series Singapore Edition

READ MORE: Beam Suntory welcomes Lunar New Year with Bowmore & Auchentoshan

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