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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Tom Bruce-Gardyne

Diageo has just announced the birth of its latest innovation - a Scotch whisky the likes of which few will have seen before. J&B -6C is a straightforward blend of grain and malt whisky matured for at least three years, as per the legal definition of Scotch. The difference is that it is almost colourless. Research told us that very dark colour is associated with very strong taste,' said J&B's global brand manager Iain Kennedy. The challenge we gave our blenders was to develop a fresh-tasting Speyside blend that had neither the spirit characteristic of youth nor the wood characteristic of age.' The new brand is being rolled out this month and aims to be in 500 selected bars across Britain. Diageo's decision to launch here first will be seen as a bold move. Demand for blended Scotch is not buoyant, particularly in UK on-trade, and J&B's presence is limited compared to elsewhere. J&B Rare is Europe's number-one Scotch, with worldwide sales of just over six million cases. The essential opportunity was when we looked at drinkers in their twenties and thirties in this country. They've got a huge desire to enter the Scotch whisky category, but can't find a brand that opens the door for them,' said Kennedy. And this is the market that is most in need of some innovation to re-engender consumer and trade interest in Scotch. J&B -6C has been developed as a new generation of Scotch whisky for the next generation of consumers.' Kennedy denied that being colourless was an attempt to emulate vodka. I'm only interested in selling Scotch whisky, and that's a taste I would love people in their twenties and thirties to start to acquire.' They will soon have the opportunity, at around 2 a shot. There are no immediate plans to roll the brand into the off-trade, but an eventual retail price in the high teens' is anticipated.