In whisky heaven

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

It’s not often (I promise) that I drink 30 year old single malt whisky in the morning.

But today was different. Today I died and went to whisky heaven.

Actually, make that whisky haven, for that indeed is what the new-look World of Whiskies at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 is.

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It’s experiences like this that make me even more determined to stick with The Moodie Report’s agenda of championing excellence at every turn in this industry.

Here’s a retailer (WDF) investing in excellence (of staff, fixturing and product), focusing on quality, and realising the value of differentiation. And here’s a brand partnership (with William Grant & Sons) that shows the power of true collaboration.

I’ve always liked the World of Whiskies concept, ever since it (then known as Whiskies of the World) was founded by Allders International (at Heathrow) in the mid-1990s.

Every time – and I mean every time – I pass a World of Whiskies store I note the staff talking to customers, assisting them in their browsing or product selection. Much of that comes down to staff selection – WDF always employs senior gentlemen (like Antony Edwards pictured top) who know and love whisky and who like to share their passion with customers.

So if World of Whiskies is so good, why fix it? I suppose the simple answer is evolution. Even the best retail concept needs to constantly be moved on, reflecting product trends, technological developments and changing consumer habits.

World of Whiskies is doing all that, and more. Today I sat with headphones on, listening to and watching a video clip about Glenfiddich 30yo on a screen embedded in the counter in front of me.  In fact I watched three separate clips dedicated to different age statements.

“How did you change the video?” I asked the Antony. “Do you have a control panel behind the counter?”

Like many of the great malts inside the store, I was showing my age.

All Antony had to do was pick up one of several Glenfiddich bottles with an RFID tag on its base, run it across the screen and the appropriate film commenced.  Brilliant.

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I saw some great malts today, notably The Bowmore 1965, retailing at £6,000 and Glenfiddich 1955 (it’s a long time since I’ve seen a malt older than me, though it looked in far better condition).

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Given the importance of the occasion, it would have been churlish of me to resist the invitation of WDF CEO Mark Riches’ (himself looking very ‘whiskery’ as he continues to grow his moustache for the ‘MOvember’ charity campaign to support prostate cancer research) to sample a dram of Glenfiddich 30yo with him, while we sat chatting on two leather chairs as if we were sitting in the library of a grand Scottish manor house.

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Yet a few metres away from this picture of tranquillity, passengers were scurrying by on their way to their respective gates amid all the usual hustle and bustle of life in the world’s busiest international airport.

I nearly, not quite, opened my Podcast (click here to listen) with the words: “Welcome to The Moodie Dramcast.” But then I awoke from my dram and remembered where I was. In whisky haven.

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