United Distillers moves upmarket with Johnnie Walker malt launch

United Distillers is launching a malt version of its Johnnie Walker whisky range in the latest in a series of moves by whisky producers into premium brands. Malt whisky is growing faster than its cheaper rival, blended whisky.

Johnnie Walker Pure Malt will be launched into the European duty free trade before being introduced to domestic markets, including the UK. It is being supported by a worldwide press campaign through Leo Burnett.

The new brand joins Johnnie Walker blended whiskies such as Red Label, Black Label and Gold Label. Pure Malt will use a new label in green with gold lettering, and the Johnnie Walker striding man motif.

The 15-year-old malt is described as having a “fruity aroma with hints of orange, sandalwood and sherrywood”.

Other whisky producers have turned to premium products as falling prices have hit their standard brands (MW June 14).

Allied Domecq, which markets Teacher’s whisky, is testing its best-selling European brand, Ballantine’s Finest Whisky, in the UK through its Victoria Wine off-licence chain. Matthew Gloag is launching a premium version of Famous Grouse called Famous Grouse Gold Reserve.

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