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Distillers City Debate to explore how innovative whisky is compared to other categories

Published:  13 March, 2015

Is the whisky category sufficiently innovative and how does it compare with other drinks categories will be the key issues up for debate at the Distillers City Debate 2015 organised by the Worshipful Company of Distillers.

The Distillers' City Debate 2015, which takes place on 14 May at JP Morgan, Old City of London School, will look at how innovation can be achieved in the category without compromising the protection of whisky's heritage and tradition. The industry is widely perceived to target more mature drinkers than the white spirit industry, and the debate will consider whether it is sufficiently innovative to tap into the new wave of potential customers, who it says are looking for excitement, prestige, value, and new flavours.

As well as looking at how whisky compares to other drinks categories, the debate will look at the Global Travel Sector where much of the innovation begins, and where high price premiums are achieved. This part of the market has embraced limited editions and range extensions to encourages consumers to discover new lines and has replaced age statements with exotic names to avoid using age as the sole measure of value, the livery company said. Other areas to be explored include grain whisky and technical advances that have improved consistency and reduced cost, providing a vital step in a product which require a longer maturation period.

The panel includes Damien Heary, director for Innovation and planning at William Grant & Sons; Glen Gribbon, director of blends at Edrington; spirits consultant and writer Ian Buxton;  and beverage analyst Ian Shackleton, managing director of Nomura International. The debate is being chaired by Trevor Stirling, beverage analyst at Sanford C Bernstein, who will encourage the audience to participate in the discussion. 

Stirling said the industry faced an interesting dilemma:

"The whisky industry faces something of a paradox in subjecting itself to very tight definition to preserve its heritage and guard its long term future, while re-inventing itself all over the world to broaden its appeal to new consumers. This discussion will focus on whether the two are compatible," he said.

Entry to the debate is free, but by ticket only. For tickets apply to: