‘The best whisky environment in the world’; WDF unveils revamped World of Whiskies – 17/11/09

UK. WDF has opened a new World of Whiskies store at London Heathrow Airport’s ambitiously revamped Terminal 4, featuring what the Autogrill-owned retailer describes as “a contemporary new look and feel for its highly successful specialist brand”.

The store was commissioned by WDF in partnership with William Grant & Sons, which in turn appointed retail design specialists Sheridan & Co to develop the new concept.

The brief was to maintain WDF’s reputation as a specialist whisky store and “˜haven for whisky drinkers’, but also to broaden its appeal to a more diverse audience, including young professional men and women and the whisky novice as well as the whisky connoisseur.

WDF CEO Mark Riches told The Moodie Report: “We wanted to broaden the appeal of World of Whiskies, which appeals very much to collectors and aficionados – people who understand their whisk(e)y. But we’re trying, as always in travel retail, to increase the penetration into the store. And this iteration of World of Whiskies does play to that.

The new-look World of Whiskies store invites passengers on a journey of discovery – note the tasting glasses at the front

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Riches continued: “It reminds me of a library. It’s a serious environment with serious product all around. And it’s all backed up by staff who have an unbelievable knowledge of the product they sell.

“I have to pay tribute to William Grant & Sons and Peter Eves [Account Controller – Travel Retail] for their support in helping us produce what I think is the best whisk(e)y environment in the world.”

Eves told The Moodie Report: “The clear point to us was that the DNA of World of Whiskies mustn’t be messed with while taking it forward to the next level.

“Also we wanted to incorporate education, and demystify some of the issues surrounding malt whisky so that consumers can really relate to it. And we wanted to showcase key and rare vintages. Those were the fundamental principles.”

Sheridan’s new design concept for the store mixes the modern and traditional, juxtaposing a sleek, contemporary interior with a palette of seasoned materials associated with the whisky industry, such as oak and brass. The arched ceiling clad with oak echoes the inside of a whisky barrel.

Based on customer insight, the agreed theme for the store was that of “˜discovering whisky’. The theme was then applied to the many facets of whisk(e)y, from its history and production, to choosing the right whiskies for specific occasions. The journey of discovery also involves access to unique and rare whiskies.

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WDF said: “One of the main aims was to take customers on a personal journey and demystify the drink, enabling them to sample different whiskies in their search for the perfect drink to suit them.”

On entering the store customers encounter the “˜Discover Your Taste’ tasting bar where they can sit in comfort and sample a variety of whiskies – assisted by the World of Whiskies expert staff – to discover the one that they prefer.

This process is aided by the use of RFID* technology that displays information on LCD screens when the customer places a chosen bottle of Glenfiddich or The Balvenie malt on the tasting bar counter. Headphones are also provided, enabling the customer to listen to relevant whisky information as they view the screen content, helping them to make a more informed whisky choice.

Whiskey Specialist Antony Edwards welcomes travellers into this luxurious haven of fine whiskies

The new store features a number of “˜zones’, which offer different levels of customer experience depending on the time they have available. At the back of the store, the “˜Rare and Vintage’ corner provides a comfortable consultation area – replete with leather armchairs – where customers can sit and consider their proposed purchase, or discuss various whiskies with the staff.

A key feature of World of Whiskies is its offering of very rare, exclusive and limited edition whiskies. In the Rare & Vintage corner, some exceptional whiskies are displayed museum-style (though they are for sale), behind glass – including The Bowmore 1965 retailing at £6,000; The Dalmore 40yo at £1,000 and one bottle of Glenfiddich 50 Year Old at £10,000.

Alongside this display, a brass timeline details the history of whisky with particular reference to William Grant & Sons’ flagship brand Glenfiddich.

(Clockwise from top) William Grant & Sons’ Peter Eves demonstrates the RFID technology that activates an educational film on a screen embedded in the tasting counter; the 50yo expression of The Balvenie on the right retails for £6,000; part of the selection is grouped by motivation – ‘Out of the Ordinary’; ‘The Daily Dram’; and ‘Fireside Indulgence’

As part of the strategy to demystify whisky and welcome the whisky novice, the traditional product segmentation has been changed to reflect lifestyle aspects as well as origin of each whisky.

New segmentations include “˜Fireside Indulgence’ and “˜Not the Usual’, which WDF said “create a more emotional connection with the product and promote the best whisky for a particular occasion”. For the more experienced whisky drinker product is also still merchandised by origin: such as Islay, Speyside or Highlands.

William Grant & Sons Marketing Manager Ian Taylor: “We were delighted to be able to work in partnership with WDF, taking part in developing the new World of Whiskies concept. The objectives that Mark and the WDF team sought matched our own perfectly – a willingness to innovate, to simplify the message to consumers and to focus on excellence through education, demystifying the whisky category.

“These aspirations were only matched by the desire to create a truly outstanding premium venue, a whisky experience that would be fitting for the most exclusive and outstanding expressions of the whisky makers art. To me, this has to be the best place in travel retail to savour and explore single malts, in particular Glenfiddich and The Balvenie, of course.”

(Clockwise from top) Glenfiddich 30yo in hand, WDF CEO Mark Riches chats to Martin Moodie; The store ceiling is reminiscent of an oak barrel; Leather armchairs at the back of the store exude the ambience of a private library

The new look World of Whiskies offers “something for everyone”, WDF said. Those who have more time to spend can come and have a tasting experience and learn about whisky assisted by World of Whiskies specialist staff. For those with limited whisky knowledge, selection is made easy with the “˜Favourites’, “˜Daily Dram’ or “˜Gifting’ sections.

WDF has also recently relaunched its newly designed World of Whiskies website – www.worldofwhiskies.com – which allows customers to register online, browse at their leisure and then pre-order their chosen whisky, which will then be ready and waiting for them when they go into the store.

NOTE: We’ll bring you a more detailed review and comment on World of Whiskies and the revamped Heathrow Terminal 4 in the next issue of The Moodie Report Print Edition (available in hard copy and digital format), out in early January.

Whether choosing for gifting or self-consumption, by region or by value offer, the store has the right whisk(e)y for you


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