Forget Whisky Decanters, Ampoules Are The Future

by Oliver Klimek on July 1, 2012

As much as we love to complain about the premiumization of whisky that’s been happening in recent years, the wine business has always been a step ahead. So it was the renowned Australian Penfolds winery that recently raised the marketing bar even higher.

Their rather unpretentiously named 2004 Block 42 is supposed to be the wine with the highest price tag ever (A$ 168,000), and it comes in a rather special packaging: a hermetically sealed scientific-grade glass ampoule encased in a conical vessel that makes the ensemble look like an oversized syringe out of a 1950s mad scientist horror movie.

But this is not the best part yet! To quote Penfolds’ press release:

“The Penfolds Ampoule is not only a compelling work of wine art – it also provides a truly memorable experiential and sensory engagement. When a decision is made to open the ampoule a senior member of the Penfolds Winemaking team will personally attend a special opening ceremony for the owner (essentially your very own master-class). The winemaker will travel to the destination of choice, where the ampoule will be ceremoniously removed from its glass plumb-bob casing and opened using a specially designed, tungsten-tipped, sterling silver scribe-snap. The winemaker will then prepare the wine using a beautifully crafted sterling silver tastevin.”

Couldn’t this also be a model for the next phase in whisky marketing? Wouldn’t you too love to have Richard Paterson in person popping over to your place, equipped with a state-of-the-art tungsten-tipped scribe-snap to crack open the shiny ampoule of the yet-to-be-released £500,000 Dalmore Homunculus and throwing the first dram on YOUR carpet?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Gal July 1, 2012 at 10:52 am

what a load of BS this wine is.

can’t believe it.

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Armin July 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Isn’t this is a bit like that “Isabella’s Islay” which was marketed as the most expensive whisky ever, when in reality it was more likely the most expensive decanter ever?

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Oliver Klimek July 1, 2012 at 12:21 pm

That thought springs to mind, yes. But I think it’s not quite the same. The wine certainly won’t be plonk, Penfolds is as exclusive as you can get in wine and it really is supposed to be top notch. And the packaging definitely is not worth the money. Just glass and a handmade wooden box ;) To me it really resembles more those old ‘investment grade’ Dalmores they have been churning out lately.

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Armin July 1, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Agree, not quite the same, but the principle is similar. I’m not doubting that the wine is among the best and probably even if sold in a normal bottle would be rather expensive. What you’re buying here though is more than just the wine, it’s the whole experience and exclusivity. You get the wine maker visiting you (presumably their travel cost is covered in the A$ 168,000?), opening it with a special tool and all that.

And from that point I agree with you, I think that model could easily be copied for the whisky market.

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internet marketing July 6, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Agree, not quite the same, but the principle is similar. I’m not doubting that the wine is among the best and probably even if sold in a normal bottle would be rather expensive. What you’re buying here though is more than just the wine, it’s the whole experience and exclusivity. You get the wine maker visiting you (presumably their travel cost is covered in the A$ 168,000?), opening it with a special tool and all that.

Reply

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