A pairing that’s fit for the Bard

Whisky and food matching can boost profits, firms say

Pairing whisky and food can be a money spinner for venues this Burns’ Night.
Pairing whisky and food can be a money spinner for venues this Burns’ Night.

THERE’S little doubt that Burns’ Night can bring a welcome boost to business for many during what can be a quieter month for the on-trade.

From Burns Suppers to special beers and whiskies, Scottish food and drink is central to the celebration of the Bard on January 25; and it seems operators seeking to really capitalise on the occasion would do well to combine the two.

Stuart Ellis, UK sales manager at Benromach parent firm Gordon & MacPhail, said whisky and food pairings are “a great way to drive sales – and attract new whisky drinkers”.

“Benromach 10 year old, with its delicate spiciness and touch of light peat smoke is perfect for matching [with] the traditional Burns Supper of haggis, neeps and tatties,” said Ellis.

Taking a similar stance, Gordon Sloan, senior category development analyst at Maxxium UK, which distributes whisky brands including The Famous Grouse and Highland Park, said with consumer expectations continuing to rise and “fierce” competition for leisure spend in January, staging special events can be a big draw for customers.

Whisky and food pairings are popular at Burns’ Night – and are a great way to drive sales.

“We know consumers are becoming increasingly demanding and events are a way to engage with lighter consumers to showcase the outlet and demonstrate a passion and specialism perhaps unknown to those in the community,” said Sloan.

“Cutting through the noise can be a challenge for outlets with limited budgets, but communicating what makes your outlet different can go a long way: consider whisky tasting flights, food pairing events, live music to really bring your outlet to life and capitalise on January’s strength with whisky.”

Similarly, Katy Macanna, brand manager at Ian Macleod Distillers, whose portfolio includes Tamdhu and Glengoyne, reckons that, when considering any type of event, such as whisky and food pairing, enlisting the help of brand professionals can pay dividends.

“Staff training offered by suppliers is the best way to provide staff with the confidence of talking about whisky to their customers,” she said, adding that it “may also be suitable to work with a supplier like Ian Macleod Distillers to use one of their brand ambassadors for a special event one night”.