Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Private members whisky

Ladybank Distilleries is attracting consumers by making them feel highly involved with its product. In this case: Scotch single malt whisky.

While the whisky market is dominated by large breweries and a small number of well-known brands, a counter-movement is (inevitably) taking place. Ladybank, based in Fife, Scotland, is one of a handful of new, artisanal distilleries, and is completely structured around the concept of consumer involvement. The Ladybank Company of Distillers Club, as the full name goes, plans to start distilling by the end of 2007, which means the first dram of malt won't have matured before 2017.

The private club will have no more than 1,250 members. Memberships are becoming available in small releases; UK memberships currently on offer are priced at GBP 3,250 (USD 6,020/EUR 4,760), and fees are lower for overseas members. For that one-off fee, members of the Ladybank Club are entitled to the equivalent of six bottles a year during the first 50 years of production. They're also welcome to visit the distillery, which is closed to the general public, and may invite guests. Furthermore, members have full voting rights on key issues.
Distilling days will allow members to get hands-on, and a Whisky School will offer a total understanding of whisky production, 'from grain to oak cask'. Yearly production will be in the region of 25,000 litres per year.

Since Ladybank whisky won't be available for general sale, exclusivity is a big draw. However, according to the company's founder James Thomson, the core appeal is involvement. Which shouldn't come as a surprise to those of you who've been tracking trendwatching.com's customer-made trend.

Other products are following this collective, membership, exclusive trend. Nudo (oliver oil collective) and Tribe Wanted (Eco Tourism collective) are excellent examples. In a world getting more generic, homogenised and ubiquitous it's fascinating to see brands bucking this trend.

Thanks to Mike Iskas for this.


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