Small-batch spirits are big, and consumers tend to think of them as both gustatory experiences and expressions of their spirit-tuality. Jim Beam is tapping into the latter to promote its new single barrel whiskey, which the Clermont, Ky.-based distiller launched in March, and which constitutes about 1% of output.
Central to the effort is a promotion where people can submit a message for a chance to have it printed on the inside back label of the bottles sold nationally. The Jim Beam “Single Barrel, Single Statement” Contest is based at a microsite where consumers can vote on the best of the statements. That statement has to be a 50-character adage around whiskey enjoyment and aesthetics. As the company puts it in a release, "Whether it’s a favorite toast, how to sip a great glass of bourbon, whom to enjoy it with or where to drink it – we want to hear from our fans for a chance to be featured permanently on actual bottle labels which will be sold in actual stores nationwide."
The effort includes a Web video featuring the company's master distiller, Fred Noe, who is also Jim Beam's grandson. Six winners will get their sayings on bottles. Two grand prize winners will get a private bourbon tasting in their hometowns with Noe officiating.
Some of the bottles, which have hand-written barrel dates and bottling numbers (par for the course with high-end small batches) have statements by Jim Beam employees: Heather Daines, an R&D scientist; Fred Noe’s cousin and whiskey manager Jim Noe, and Craig Weiter, who manages the single barrel product.
The company, whose parent Beam, Inc. was acquired this year by Japanese giant Suntory (to much Twitterverse columny) has also been active in creating a line of infused whiskeys. They extend the Red Stag By Jim Beam, a label the company created in 2009. In May, the distiller launched Kentucky Fire, a cinnamon-infused spirit, which came after arch-rival Jack Daniels launched Tennessee Fire. Last fall, Jim Beam released Red Stag By Jim Beam Hardcore Cider. There is also Red Stag Black Cherry, Red Stag Honey Tea and Red Stag Spiced.