March 14 2024  |  Spirits & Tobacco

Maker's Mark launches final 'Wood Finishing City Series' in London

By Alison Farrington on location in London

The fifth and final edition in the Maker's Mark Wood Finishing City Series launched in London with an activation at Heathrow

Beam Suntory-owned Maker’s Mark Bourbon has launched a month-long activation for its fifth and final Wood Finishing City Series in global travel retail; the London City Edition is available exclusively at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, in partnership with Avolta, with only 720 bottles produced.

The limited-edition collection captures the unique character and flavors of the world’s most dynamic cities for whiskey fans traveling the globe. This series has been supported by airport activations since it made its debut in 2022.

Previous expressions have featured New York City, Sydney, Frankfurt and Singapore. The London City Edition, available from 28 February to 26 March, concludes the collection. This complex release incorporates punchy spice, fruit, tang and sweet caramel to combine the dynamic capital city’s vibes with the classic finish of Maker’s Mark.

The eye-catching activation, which features the whiskey's two local flavor creators, will remain at London Heathrow until March 26

“The Wood Finishing City Series offers a great opportunity for us to personalize our special Maker’s Mark GTR exclusive for this exciting city. We partnered with two of its flavour innovators who have been longstanding brand collaborators,” Vincent Doutreleau, Brand Manager GTR at Beam Suntory told GTR Magazine on location in London.

“We chose London as the final location in our city series as a major nod to all our US customers that pass through this important air hub. The activation at London Heathrow is timed well; it comes just as market data from IWSR indicates that demand for US whiskey – especially bourbon – is doing well in the UK.

The decision to feature just five cities (and no more) was strategic, according to Doutreleau: “We wanted to focus on key locations where we know our customers can really engage with an elevated product that celebrates local creatives and their interpretations of what makes Maker’s Mark special; our London collaborators brought a real craftsmanship to this edition,” he said.

 “GTR exclusives will continue to be key for Beam Suntory,” said Vincent Doutreleau, Brand Manager GTR at Beam Suntory, here with GTR Magazine's Alison Farrington. “We need to keep innovating in GTR to offer a point of difference vs the domestic market.”

Key features of the Heathrow T5 activation, include a tasting bar and sampling, brand imagery and tastemaker information alongside the impactful digital merchandising showing the dedicated video ad campaign. Uniformed Maker’s Mark ambassadors talk visitors through the flavor profiles and offer exclusive screen-printed tote bags with purchases.

“We are excited to reveal this latest London Edition of our Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing City Series Edition, in partnership with Avolta,” noted Beam Suntory Brand Marketing Director Global Travel Retail Manuel Gonzalez.

“This collection, which incorporates destination-specific innovation within the reassuring familiarity of a world-famous premium brand, has really resonated with international travelers all around the world.

“Our goal is to build Maker’s Mark into a global US whiskey icon, and pioneering new product development and consumer-first brand experiences will play a key role in achieving this objective. This London Edition spotlights our clear craftmanship credentials, while offering a one-of-a-kind taste profile.”

The activation also showcases the signature Maker’s Mark cocktail – the Gold Rush – made with Maker’s Mark Classic.

The activation features information on the whiskey and its creators

Speaking on behalf of Avolta, Paul Martin, Category Manager for Liquor in the UK commented: “At Avolta, and within our World Duty Free stores, we strive to deliver unique products and immersive experiences that really engage and inspire our customers.

“This striking activation with its tasting bar, impactful brand imagery, and its strong Sense of Place with the release of this

London Edition in exclusive partnership with us, will certainly capture travelers’ interest.”

London tastemakers

Douglas McMaster is a chef and the owner of Silo London – the world’s first zero waste restaurant. In 2021, he was recognised by “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” as one of the “young people shaping the future of gastronomy.”

To create this latest expression, Maker’s Mark partnered with two of London’s best known flavor collaborators: Douglas McMaster and Ryan Chetiyawardana

Cocktail bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana (AKA Mr Lyan) opened his first bar, White Lyan, in London in 2013. It was the first cocktail bar in the world to use no perishables, including no fruit and no ice. In addition to being named “World’s Best Bartender,” Ryan has ranked #5 on Business Insider’s “World’s Leading Figures in Food and Drink.” He has also won the accolade of “World’s Best Bar” three times with his various venues.

Ryan commented: “It was so exciting to travel to Maker's Mark’s home in Kentucky. The unique profile of the whiskey reflects the land that surrounds the distillery. This comes through in its signature character, so to be able to marry this with a place that is so important to me – and to be able to do this with one of my dearest friends, and someone I admire hugely from a professional point of view – was incredible.”

He added: “London is a very complex city, so to try and represent all the facets that make it so exciting, we looked to create a sense of dynamism, and almost contradiction, within the whiskey. Building on the Maker's Mark character, we looked to balance deep spice with something more fleeting, floral and elegant – to have something that was simultaneously bold yet elegant, and with a long trail of spice on the palate. It's a gem of a whiskey to seek out, and one that we hope does justice to both London, and to the amazing efforts of Maker's Mark.”

Douglas added: “Our contribution for this collaboration was as unconventional as we are. Welcomed with sincere appreciation for our lateral thinking, we have made something truly magical, one of a kind. We closed the loop on flavour, we made London proud, we made the drinkers think. Maker’s Mark, thank you for letting myself and Mr Lyan join your family. Our collaboration was fleeting, but the magic will live on… At least for 720 beguiling bottles.”

London Edition flavor profile

On the nose, the Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series London Edition combines notes of buttercream icing, toasted vanilla, orange peel, maple, caramel and vanilla bean. On the palate, bright caramel, orchard fruits and marshmallow give way to notes of rich tobacco, oak and salted caramel. The creamy texture and forward palate finish is enhanced with zesty notes of citrus, spices and tobacco.

Bottled at 54.45% AVB, the Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series London Edition has an RRSP of US$95 for 700ml.

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