Macallan brings Scotch to life with immersive augmented reality experience


Whisky has a new audience. The stereotype that only middle-aged men drink whisky is fading.

It has become the drink of choice for younger professionals – both men and women – looking for a quality spirit to enjoy both in and out of home.

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A new generation of drinkers brings with it a new opportunity for whisky brands to educate, engage and appeal to more potential customers. An opportunity that Macallan embraced with its stimulating and impactful augmented reality event in a New York art gallery.

Using the most cutting-edge AR technology, Microsoft HoloLens, the two-day event educated visitors on the intricacies of making two of its high quality single malts; The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Years Old and The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old.

Aspiring young professionals walked around the custom-built art installation wearing an AR headset to experience all the elements that gives each scotch its unique characteristics.

One exhibit was a sculpture of empty window frames that through the AR glasses visitors saw stunning views of the American and European forests where Macallan sources the oak for its maturation casks.

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Another looked like a hollow cask but through the lenses, liquid could be seen flowing through it, picking up more colours and textures along the way; a visual representation of the effects of the cask during maturation.

Engaging all the senses, as guests walked under an archway to another part of the gallery, the aromas of the whiskies, such as honey, citrus, dried fruits and ginger floated around them.

In the next room the guests were transported into the American and European forests where the wood for each whisky cask is sourced. With the moving backdrop of the American forest, guests got to taste the food that pairs best with the Double Cask 12-Year-Old whisky – smokey eggplant dip, petite basque, bresaola, manchego, and pickles. In the European forest, people ate maple marshmallow, candied bacon, milk chocolate, and waffle cookies – foods that marry well with the Sherry Oak 12-Year-Old.

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Guests were also able to sip on both single malts throughout the event and a choice of two cocktails were also available. Tasting notes to introduce drinkers to new ways of enjoying whisky were also provided.

To make the experience accessible to all, a dedicated AR app is available through Apple IOS 11 that takes users through the same immersive experience that teaches them about the whisky’s colour, flavour, and maturation process.

Macallan is focused on using sensory experiences to engage with consumers. Previously the brand staged the Macallan Residence and took consumers on an immersive tour to showcase the luxury credentials of its 1824 series.

Another brand that has effectively used augmented reality to take consumers on a sensory journey, is Boursin, who we supported with a dedicated virtual reality roadshow, known as the Sensorium.

Author bio


With nearly 30 years of marketing experience, both client and agency side, I’ve acquired a rare perspective on brands and business: I believe you have to challenge things creatively if you want to grow sales. Consumer technology is reshaping our world, and it’s only the great brands that stay on the crest.