Interview with Lenka from the Scotch Whisky Experience
Lenka Whyles is Head of Visitor Experience at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh and shares her insights in immersive whisky experiences.
The Scotch Whisky Experience (SWE) was founded in 1988 with the mission to ‘make the world fall in love with whisky’ and is a marketing exercise for scotch whisky offering guided tours, tastings, trainings and events next to their shop and restaurant.
The audience is very international with about 85% foreigners, about 90% non whisky drinkers (so having their first contact with whisky) and within an age range of 25 to 35 years.
Experienced whisky drinkers are usually not within their audience due to their opinion of it ‘being a place for tourists’.
The attention span of people is nowadays very short with about 10 minutes. This is why the SWE tour is designed in 5 segments of which each lasts about 10 min. The tour itself includes among other things, a barrel ride, a screening of a flight over Scotland and a Hologram, which is an old Victorian theatrical trick called peppers ghost (using 2 mirrors and a projector) .
Overall people react openly to the presentation of the whisky story using projections and technology due to their lack of preconceptions.
Until now whisky is seen differently in different markets: e.g. in Spain whisky used to be a young peoples drink as, however, in Scotland it was long seen as an old-mans-drink. The baggage of whisky being drunk by your granddad is simply not existing in other countries and therefor it rather had – and still has – a reputation of being versatile, young and hip.
Nonetheless, it is to note that people still want personal contact, which is shown with the guide of the tour generally being rated as the nicest part of the experience, who are up till now just supported by audiovisuals.
Regarding my own project Lenka advised me to collect feedback with high diligence due to the power of suggestion – people can be easily influenced with whatever will be put into their mind regarding tasting and nosing of whisky.
However, cohesive senses were experienced by both of us in whisky tastings before. Lenka could confirm in the tasting she joined about 70% of people agreed on the colour relation to the taste of sweet and she could also confirm the same ratio of agreement on the relation of a shape to a specific taste. Further parts of the experiment included the touch of velvet while tasting a 15 year old Dalwhinnie and the touch of sand paper while tasting a Talisker.