There’s no telling where good ideas come from. Sometimes you get them when laying on your bed, thinking about the existential nature of life with an ignored book beside you. Other times you might be walking to your mama mboga and right before you cross the road something brilliant strikes you. Or it could be when you are enjoying your favorite drink, listening to music, and then it slaps you on the face like a wet leather ball. Maybe it comes from overthinking about an issue. The thing is a good idea could take seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or even years before it materializes.
Which brings me to the William Lawson’s Apple Mixed Drink.
A product development team somewhere sat down, put on their thinking hats, threw out the box, put coffee on the pot and the lead probably said something tacky like “Okay team, let’s get cracking” and then they went through mountains of market research. The endgame? Come up with a new product that maybe everyone would love. Which is a façade because let’s face it, you cannot get everyone to like something – cue in Jubilee PR team.
Normally such sessions have sleepless nights, stained whiteboards, frustrated team members, numerous bathroom and smoke breaks, the occasional “maybe we are looking at this the wrong way” all up until someone said, “let’s mix whisky with apple juice.”
Remember when Pepsi thought a can of their soda could stop a riot? Maybe the chaps over at Lawson’s thought this was the next big thing. A deck was quickly put together, random stats thrown in there, some catchy mockups and of course a suave fellow in jeans and a shirt to pitch it to management and voila it went into development and hit the markets.
Anytime I see anything alcoholic with “apple” the first thing that comes to mind is women. There’s this notion that women can be sold on anything as long as you add apples to it. But here’s the shtick, women that love whisky love it the way it is. They accept it with all its flaws, they understand its temperament, and they know when to add ice or when to put in a dash of soda. They can soothe the fieriest of whiskies into a round glass taming the smokiness with calculated sips.
So I was intrigued, clearly, this was not the product of any whisky lover. Who were they trying to recruit? I got one, chilled it, and had a taste of it. Here is where I understood everything. That drink was not made with a whisky drinker in mind. They totally ignored their needs. It tastes like you left sliced apple out for a few days then popped it in the fridge hoping to salvage it. The whisky taste is purely adulterated. It feels like a struggling apple cider. One that has back payments on its car loan, overdue rent, supports Arsenal, and wears loafers with sweatpants on weekends.
At a price point of around KSH 200 coming in a 330ML can – this is a rookie drink. This is for people that know nothing about whisky. This is actually for people that know nothing about alcohol. This is a drink a first-time drinker will see, fall in love with the fancy can (the can does look good), love the price point, and get hooked in by the apple proposition. Since they have no taste profile to compare it to they might probably like it. Love it even. Until they end up on the same table with someone like me and it all goes up in smoke.
But maybe it is just me. The thing is sometimes good ideas do not really look like good ideas. Imagine when the Wright brothers decided to invent the plane. Everyone must have thought they had lost their marbles. But now look at us, scrambling to get business class tickets so we can travel the world in a dildo shaped metal contraption that flies. So I might just give this drink a couple of centuries to grow on me.