Jill Daniel’s?

I was surprised this week by the arrival of a media pack for the launch of “Tennessee Honey”, a new whiskey liqueur – surprised because I wasn’t expecting the package and surprised because it’s an unexpected product. Actually I’m probably overstating the situation on both counts. I had heard about the global launch sometime last year, so I was aware of the product, and the marketing dude for this brand had informed me a few months ago that he’d be sending me a package. However there’s been a lot of whisky under the bridge since then so let’s just say that I was nonetheless mildly taken aback.

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The reason for my second source of surprise is that this drink bears the Jack Daniel’s name, and is packaged in the same square-jawed, iconic bottle. Jack is a masculine brand – a tobacco-chewing, chest pounding man’s brand. I wrote this sometime last year for my friends at Mojodojo:

“We struggle with availability of American whiskeys here in SA, but you can always count on Jack. It’s not going to blow you away with its complexity but it’s rugged and adaptable – sip it, shoot it, mix it, cocktail-ise it, it’s all good. A live fast, die young, rock star of a whiskey.”

You might also remember my review of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel.

So how then did a liqueur that seems intended for women (and guys who like sweet drinks) get into this locker room? Al and Laura Reis (of “22 Immutable Laws of Branding” fame) were clearly not consulted. And this from a brand that has built its incredible strength on the back of a tightly focused consumer proposition. The temptation to stake a claim in new territories must be powerful indeed…but I’ll put my marketing strategy reservations to one side for now.  In terms of execution, if the pack is anything by which to go, these guys clearly don’t need any advice (or very little).

It’s high quality (without being excessive or overblown), and it’s relevant, evocative and informative. Check it out for yourselves.

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The only thing that rung false was a label declaring my bottle to be number 1 of 120. I’m not that special, so was this just the luck of the draw? Turns out everyone else also received bottle numero uno. Either this was a concession to practicality (it’s easier to print identical labels) or it was, certainly in this Twitter era, an ill-conceived PR gimmick. We’ll forgive them because the overall effort is outstanding.

Now, before I’m labelled a fraud, I need to make a confession: I haven’t yet tasted the drink. I only received my pack yesterday and I’m currently writing this somewhere above the Horn of Africa, so I didn’t get the opportunity to crack the seal. It’s probably going to be lost on me anyhow – I’m not a fan of liqueurs, and my Spiced Gold days are behind me. I have no doubt however that it’s damn good (although I’ll get my wife to verify). These guys don’t often create new products, a fact which they point out at great pains, so you can be sure that when they do it would have been expertly concocted.

Enjoy the week ahead. May the dram bee (☺) with you!

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2 responses to “Jill Daniel’s?

  1. Well written Mr Leclezio. So we can assume that whiskydotcoza will not be stocking the Honey Jack….well, not until you have at least tried it….

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