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‘Whisky in Focus’ promotion launched

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The LCBO on Monday launched “Whisky in Focus,” its largest-ever whisky promotion, as sales of the popular spirit are projected to top $520 million by year-end—more than $16 million higher than last year.

“Whisky is re-emerging as the preferred spirits drink for many Ontarians,” said Michael Riley, Business Unit Director, Spirits Category, who is chief whisky buyer for the LCBO.

“In fact, sales of Canadian whisky alone, which were in serious decline just over a decade ago, are now growing at a rate of four to five percent a year.

The main reason is consumers are rediscovering whisky’s unique and distinctive characteristics,” he noted.

In addition to presenting 99 featured whiskies and more than 1,000 tastings in all 602 LCBO stores until Nov. 10, “Whisky in Focus” has a creative twist.

It includes a photo competition which invites entrants to submit photos that reflect the essence of whisky based on supplied themes. The themes are individuality, iconic, heritage, spirit, and enduring.

Contest details are available at www.lcbo.com

Photos will be posted on the main LCBO website—www.lcbo.com—until Oct. 30. The public then can vote online for their favourite submissions from Nov. 1-8.

In the third week of the promotion, an expert panel will choose one grand winner from the top submissions from the online voting.

The grand winner will receive a digital camera package and the winning photo will be included in an LCBO “Whisky in Focus” advertising piece.

“Given the creative aspects of this contest and the interest today in digital cameras, cell phone cameras, and the Internet, we expect a good response,” said Riley.

“Whisky in Focus” also highlights many premium whiskies in distinctive and unique bottles, many of which are available only in Ontario.

“Whisky producers are reinventing the way they present their products and driving sales growth as a result,” said Riley, noting premium whiskies are growing by 8.1 percent versus last year.

“The new Crown Royal Cask No. 16, Forty Creek Small Batch Reserve, and J.P Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky are good examples of Canadian whisky’s new, more contemporary look.”

The promotion will feature all four whisky categories: Canadian, Scotch, American, and Irish.

Among the many whiskies is a unique pure malt made from the blend of a single malt from the Linkwood Distiller in Scotland and Glen Breton single malt from Nova Scotia.

There also are 20 new whisky cocktails that have been created for “Whisky in Focus” in conjunction with the Martini Club of Canada. These new cocktails will be featured in displays throughout the promotion and on the LCBO’s website.

The LCBO also is presenting The Ultimate Whisky Bar Chef Challenge on Oct. 20 at “Whisky Live,” an international show taking place at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto.

Several of the province’s top bartenders will compete for a $1,000 cash prize and to be featured in Whisky magazine. There also will be a whisky lounge with tastings and a whisky retail store at the show.

“Whisky remains the world’s most popular spirit because of its many distinctive styles and its versatility,” noted Riley. “It can be sipped as a cocktail, with a little water, or savoured straight up.

“Enjoying Canadian whisky in moderation is also a celebration of our heritage and exceptional products for which Canada is recognized the world over,” he added.

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