Edinburgh-based Skakel & Skakel is designing a 279m2 visitor centre for the Bell’s whisky brand that will go head-to-head with Land Design Studio’s Famous Grouse Experience, created last year for Highland Distillers (DW 17 January 2002).
The consultancy presents concept ideas next week for facilities including a ‘tasting gallery’, an exhibition, reception area and shop. Bell’s is spending around £275 000 to upgrade spaces at its Blair Athol distillery near Perth and the visitor experience is scheduled to open on 19 April in time for the Easter vacation.
Skakel & Skakel managing director Richard Skakel, leading the project with head of graphics Amanda Turner, says Bell’s will be accentuating the ‘provenance, integrity and craft’ behind the product, as opposed to the ‘marketing-led’ displays that characterise the Famous Grouse brand.
‘Playstation-goes-to-the-distillery technology is not appropriate here,’ he adds. ‘Bell’s is more firmly rooted in traditional values.’
Increasing ‘whisky tourism’ in Scotland and growing ‘connoisseurship’ in how whisky is consumed are influential factors. ‘As people learn more about whisky, they understand more about regional characteristics,’ says Skakel. ‘Like champagne, a blend can be a good thing.’
The centre will focus on the ‘authentic experience of the whisky making process and a sensory exploration of the art of blending’. It is housed in a former store area within the Victorian part of the Blair Athol distillery, which was originally established in 1798.
Skakel & Skakel won a two-way pitch before Christmas.