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So who exactly is the man in the white shirt being mobbed for his autograph in the photo above? A rock star on a farewell tour maybe? Or a famous sportsman suddenly identified in a hotel by legions of adoring fans?
Neither. In fact, it’s Jeff Arnett, Master Distiller of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, one of the great global drinks brands – and one of the powerhouses of the duty free liquor category.
We captured this shot of Jeff (who spent the next hour signing autographs and having photos taken) at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Dubai, after he gave an address and hosted a brand tasting to around 600 bartenders and F&B managers from establishments across the city on Wednesday. The event was organised by Brown-Forman and its distributor MMI, part of The Emirates Group.
Such was the level of interest that MMI had to turn hundreds away – a fact that speaks volumes for the surging popularity of the US brand in the Middle East.
Jeff’s trip here coincides with ours too. We’re both attending the official opening of the first ever Jack’s Bar & Grill on Thursday, at the new Concourse A at Dubai International.
Jeff Arnett addresses a packed trade audience in Dubai
The new 272sq m concept was developed especially for the location by Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR) and sister company Maritime Mercantile International (MMI) in collaboration with Brown-Forman. The concept is managed and operated by ELR.
We’ll bring you full coverage of the opening soon, but it’s a momentous event in the brand’s long history, and a big day for Dubai Airports, which was chosen as the venue to bring the new concept to life. That move wasn’t entirely a surprise: Dubai Duty Free is the single biggest retail sales location on the plant for Jack Daniel’s.
As we saw today at the JW Marriott, the Jack Daniel’s brand has powerful appeal among the trade here in Dubai – and that augurs well for its new food & beverage venture.