On Friday 7th September Edinburgh will see Whisky Luxe, the newest member of Whisky Magazine’s Whisky Live family. This new format is supposed to be an upmarket extension of the existing festivals to give you “the ultimate VIP experience”.
After looking at their website, I have to say that I am not inclined whatsover to visit this festival, though. £125 for the entrance fee (for bookings without one of the masterclasses) sure looks luxurious, but what do you get for it?
“Entrance to Whisky Luxe Edinburgh on Friday 7th September from 7pm – 10.30pm. Includes delicious food, luxury gifts including our whisky tasting glass and Whisky Luxe handbook, access to all areas including a tasting in the magnificent Diageo Claive Vidiz Scotch Collection room, The Scotch Whisky Barrel ride, meet global whisky ambassadors and much more.”
“You receive 25 coins in your bag of gold as part of your Whisky Luxe experience. Whiskies aged 18 years and under, unaged whisky and cocktail samples are worth 3 gold coins. Whiskies aged 19 years and older plus some of the rarest whiskies ever to be presented to a visitor are worth from 4 – 5 gold coins and in some cases may be more. Additional gold coins can be purchased from the Whisky Magazine stand at a cost of £1.00. All samples are 10ml or less and all coin proceeds will go to Macmillan Cancer Support & VOCAL (Voice of Carers Across Lothian).”
So essentially food is free and you have to pay for every dram with your ‘gold coins’, formerly known as tokens. A bag of gold… Wow, that sure sounds VIP-py. Naturally, as a VIP at a luxury event you will want to skip the nether regions of the whisky selection and go for the high-end drams. 4, 5 “or more” gold doubloons will be drained from your bag with every miniature dram (what does the “10ml or less” exactly mean?). So after about 50ml of whisky – the amount of two standard 25ml pub drams – your bag of gold will be empty.
Effectively you will have paid 125 quid for a double. Yes, additional tokens are not very expensive, and the proceeds even go to charity. But doesn’t this mean that in order to get the feeling you get your money’s worth, you will have to drink as many additional drams as possible? This is not really what I would call an invitation to responsible drinking.
You can also view it from a different angle. Since the money for additional tokens goes to charity, the £125 pay the exhibitors for every bottle that is poured. So you are subtly ‘encouraged’ to give money to charity in order to reduce your personal average cost of a dram to a reasonable level.
The idea to give some of the collected money to charity is of course good. But it would have been better to donate a fixed percentage of all proceeds instead. They way they did it here is questionable. And even without charity, the entrance fee should allow you to attend and enjoy the event without psychological pressure to spend even more.