SINGAPORE. Diageo unveiled the first bottle of The John Walker – at US$3,000 duty free the highest price line in its entire drinks portfolio – with travel retailer DFS at Singapore Changi Airport on Friday.
The John Walker is described as “the pinnacle of the revered [Johnnie Walker] Blue Label marque”.
The latest addition to the Johnnie Walker Blue Label portfolio has been created from a small number of rare and exclusive whiskies, all drawn from distilleries that operated in the 1800s during its namesake’s [and brand founder's] lifetime.
Singapore was chosen as the first city to receive one of five bottles in advance of the blend’s official launch in September 2009.
Released from the vaulted ‘Blender’s Reserve’, the first bottle (signed by Master Blender Jim Beveridge) made its debut as part of DFS Group’s ‘Changi First’ programme, which has seen a number of important launches unveiled at the Singapore gateway. The exclusive bottle is being auctioned in partnership with DFS at Changi Airport to raise money for The Smile Train, the non-profit charity of choice for DFS. The retailer plans to match the amount raised.
The big moment arrives as (above and below) Lim Peck Hoon of Changi Airport Group and Jay Woo of Diageo Global Travel & Middle East draw the curtain to officially unveil the first US$3,000 bottle of The John Walker
World debut: Ultra-premium blended Scotch whisky The John Walker makes its first appearance at DFS Changi
DFS Group's elegant main Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 liquor store, the venue for the launch of so many 'Changi firsts' in recent times, offered the ideal setting for the global unveiling of The John Walker ultra-premium Scotch whisky
A blended dram that simply may never be bettered
I doubt (unless there’s an unexpected IPO for The Moodie Report) that I’ll sample The John Walker too many times again in my life. So I’ll cherish the moment I did and reflect once again on the wonderful craft and heritage that lies behind Scotch whisky blending.
Guests of honour at the official unveiling on Friday included Changi Airport Group Executive Vice President Commercial Lim Peck Hoon; Changi Airport Group Executive Vice President, Corporate Tan Lye Teck; and Changi Airport Group Executive Vice President Airport Management Foo Sek Min.
Jay Woo, General Manager Diageo Travel Retail Asia Pacific; and Jonathan Driver, International Brand Ambassador, Johnnie Walker headed a strong Diageo presence. DFS Changi Airport General Manager Keith Tam spoke on behalf of the retailer. The Moodie Report Publisher Martin Moodie was also on hand to talk about the work of The Smile Train (www.SmileTrain.org), the beneficiary of the first bottle’s auction, which runs for two weeks from 24 July.
Moodie and Driver placed the first two sealed bids. The highest bid will be constantly updated and displayed at the main DFS liquor store in Terminal 2.
Toasting the spirit of co-operation: (Left to right) DFS Changi Airport General Manager Keith Tam; Diageo General Manager Travel Retail Asia Pacific Jay Woo; Changi Airport Group Executive Vice President, Commercial Lim Peck Hoon; Johnnie Walker International Brand Ambassador Jonathan Driver; The Moodie Report Publisher Martin Moodie and MC Amie
Diageo's Jay Woo celebrates the launch of The John WalkerJay Woo, General Manager Diageo Travel Retail Asia Pacific talks about The John Walker's debut
With bidding starting at the blend’s recommended retail price of US$3,000, whisky aficionados will be able to join the auction at T2 or visit www.dfsgalleria.com to place an online bid.
Jay Woo told guests: “I’m really proud to be here at Changi Airport to introduce the world preview of The John Walker. This is only made possible due to our relationship with such a trusted partner, DFS.
“The John Walker is the rarest, most exclusive blend to join the Johnnie Walker range. It is the ultimate expression of the Johnnie Walker portfolio and will sit at the apex of the portfolio.
“This is a real tribute to the man who founded the greatest and biggest Scotch whisky brand in the world and I think he would be proud of all the attention and care that went into making this exceptional and rare whisky.”
Keith Tam said: “On behalf of DFS I would like to say it is a tremendous honour to be the first venue in the world to launch this exclusive bottle. I have no doubt that the performance of this bottle will be exceptional. Even within this week we should receive some reservations [bids] for it.”
Jay Woo: "A real tribute to the man who founded the greatest and biggest Scotch whisky brand in the world"
Keith Tam: "It is a tremendous honour to be the first venue to launch this exclusive bottle"
Martin Moodie explains the work of The Smile Train, the beneficiary of the auctioned bottle of The John Walker
Martin Moodie said: “I congratulate all the partners in this great collaboration – Diageo, DFS and Changi Airport Group. It is a wonderful collaboration of the sort we need in times of crisis.
Jonathan Driver submits the first sealed bid for bottle number one of The John Walker...
... and Martin Moodie diversifies The Moodie Report's investment strategy with the second bid
A member of the consumer press admires the first bottle of The John Walker
Changi Airport Group Executive Vice President, Corporate Tan Lye Teck and Martin Moodie
"But there is also a fourth party involved in this collaboration – and that’s The Smile Train... the world’s leading cleft charity. In just ten years The Smile Train has transformed the lives of 500,000 individuals around the world. So this auction will literally bring smiles to a lot of faces.”
The Moodie View - The John Walker takes its bow at Changi Airport
Consumer press coverage is key to The John Walker's success and a large contingent was on hand on launch day
(Pictured left to right) Martin Moodie, The Moodie Report; Rebecca Skinner, Robb Report Singapore Editor - Magazines; Ingrid Tatham, Diageo Global Travel & Middle East; Brooke Supernaw, DFS Group Merchandise Manager Liquor
Pledged to partnership - and another 'Changi first': (pictured left to right) Jay Woo, Diageo Global Travel & Middle East; Brooke Supernaw, DFS Group; Keith Tam, DFS Changi; and Lim Peck Hoon, Changi Airport Group
The Trinity at work: Representatives from Diageo Global Travel & Middle East, DFS and Changi Airport Group gather for a celebratory group shot to honour a unique partnership; note the overhead signage for cleft charity The Smile Train
ABOUT THE JOHN WALKER
The John Walker is the result of a quest by Master Blender Jim Beveridge to recreate the style of whiskies that John Walker blended, and “to recognise the uncompromising attitude to excellence that secured his name as global icon of quality”, Diageo said.
First there was Johnnie Walker Blue Label... then King George V Limited Edition... and now The John Walker
Chosen from a reserve of over seven million casks, only nine distilleries – six malt and three grain whiskies – are represented in The John Walker. These include some of the last priceless, remaining casks from the distiller’s stocks of malt whisky from Glen Albyn, closed in 1983, and grain whisky from Cambus, which closed in 1993.
Unlike any other Johnnie Walker blend, the whiskies then come together for a second and final maturation to marry the blend in a 100 year-old wood cask. Each single barrel batch (“no two batches will ever be exactly the same”, the company emphasised) fills just 330 individually numbered, hand-blown Baccarat crystal decanters.
Johnnie Walker Master Blender Jim Beveridge commented: “John Walker is watching over our shoulders as we blend. Inspired by the principles, techniques and style of whiskies that John Walker used to create small batch, hand-crafted blends for his customers in the nineteenth century, we believe we have created a modern masterpiece to satisfy the ever increasing demands of today’s sophisticated whisky drinker.”
ABOUT JOHN WALKER
John Walker – or Johnnie as the world now knows him – was born in Scotland at the turn of the 19th century, the son of a farmer. In 1820, he established his own small grocery store and embarked on a journey that has seen his name make strides around the world for 180 years.
Blending local malts at his shop, Walker’s talent and passion for the art of blending quickly developed into a successful commercial proposition and he thrived in the emerging Scotch whisky industry. His whiskies were grounded in the excellence and consistency that have been the hallmarks of the House of Walker ever since.
Today, John Walker’s legacy is a £1 billion business in over 200 countries worldwide.