Scotch and streetwear.
An odd mix on the surface, the two disparate industries are increasingly finding common ground.
The recent example: The Glenlivet joining forces with Don Crawley (aka Don C), a former manager at Kanye West’s record label and the founder of the luxury streetwear brand Just Don. Their first collaboration is a decidedly not-stuffy sweater; the layer nods at the purple colorway and the year of The Glenlivet 14 bottles and features a hidden zip pocket that folds into the shape of the Scotch bottle (you can enter to win one of these sweaters by going here).
“I think this collaboration is paradigm shifting,” Don C tells InsideHook. “It’s about putting a modern twist on a heritage brand.”
The collab seems to be part of a new, younger-aiming trend in the whisky business, which continues to grow (even in under-40 demos) but faces on-going challenges, such as the idea that millenials not really drinking. Hence, the debut of experiential events like The WhiskyX or brands working closer with younger skewing industries like fashion, including an event partnership between The Balvenie and Billy Reid and the recent debut of Wolves, a whiskey launched by luxury/lifestyle brand gurus James Bond (Undefeated) and Jon Buscemi (Buscemi, Truff, Oliver Peoples).
It’s a welcome trend in a booze category that’s lacked a lifestyle presence, something you couldn’t say about, say, Coganc, vodka or Champagne.
As for The Glenlivet: The Scotch dates back to 1824 and earns high marks among more traditional whisky drinkers (their 14 Year even won a Best Scotch Single Malt award earlier this year). But the brand has shown a recent knack for going into markets outside of brown spirits; the company had a large presence at this year’s New York Fashion Week, where a young and diverse (and decidedly not whisky nerd) crowd could be found sipping on cocktails in a modified Airstream called The Drop Shop, where the brand also showcased some collaborations with women’s fashion designer Prabal Gurung. The collaboration with Don C also included an event launch hosted by the style site Hypebeast.
More daring was the Glenlivet’s recent introduction of cocktail capsules encased in edible packets; while admittedly resembling Tide Pods and not available commercially, a video of the whisky packets garnered over nine million views on Twitter…and a lot of handwringing by older Scotch drinkers.
The Glenlivet 14 might be the ideal whisky to bring to the millennial crowd. It’s a single malt finished in ex-Cognac casks, making it a smooth sipper and something that culturally crosses boundaries. “I think of whisky as a working man’s or a man’s man drink, while Cognac I associate with gangsters and gentlemen,” says Don C. “To me, this was whisky with hip-hop, a juxtaposition.”
It’s a crossover that the liquor brand hopes will open up new demographics to whisky. “Our partnership with Don C celebrates breaking traditions in the luxury space,” explains Shefali Murdia, Director of Engagement for The Glenlivet. “We’re bridging the worlds of luxury streetwear and high-end Scotch, making both categories more inclusive.” (A collaboration with Stephen Malbon, founder of the youthful golfwear brand Malbon Golf, is also in the works).
Still, the meshing of the two traditionally distant industries did involve some growing pains. “This was a more difficult collaboration than usual, more so than something like working with sneakers,” admits Don C. “It’s a lane I’m not as familiar with; the brand had to educate me. But ultimately, I think that’s what makes this so rewarding.”
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