Five brilliant failures from the creator of Baileys

5th September, 2017 by Patrick Schmitt

J&B goes sub-zero

Picture source: ‘That S*it Will Never Sell!’

Inspired by a gin martini served frozen, straight from the freezer, in a bar “somewhere in the US” around 15 years ago, Gluckman came up with a novel idea for Scotch that sadly never made it past the boardroom.

Recalling the effect of the extreme chill on the cocktail, he writes, “The gin was deliciously oily and viscous and the flavours of juniper, coriander and vermouth seemed to explode and envelope my tongue. It was a whole new glorious sensual experience. How might it work for a whisky?”

Gluckman tested the idea at home, storing Scotch in his freezer, and tasting it with friends. “The results were interesting and quite unexpected,” he records.

He notes that when frozen, “smokier, phenolic Johnnie Walker blends seemed to deliver a much smoother, softer result” – although he had originally thought that the “sweeter, estery J&B style” would have been more successful.

Nevertheless, the idea had been to develop a new “super-premium” product for J&B in the Korean market, “the local company having made a huge success of J&B Jet”.

Gluckman named the whisky J&B Sub-Zero and enlisted “brilliant designer” Gordon Smith, who created “a gorgeous bottle with a platinum label”.

Gluckman then flew with J&B business manager for Korea Guy Escolme to Korea to present it to local representatives: “25 executives, all dressed in dark navy suits”.

Gluckman then writes, “Guy and I retired to the bar after the presentation… we waited about an hour before S G Ryu, our local representative, appeared. We were all agog. ‘How did they like it?’ I asked excitedly. Ryu eventually blurted out, ‘They hated it’.

Gluckman later acknowledges the launch of Snow Grouse: a Scotch from The Famous Grouse brand that was designed to be served frozen, and launched in the UK.

However, he writes, “I’m not sure they put much drive behind it. I remain convinced that, if the technical challenge had been pursued, we could have emerged with the world’s best frozen Scotch.”

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