UAE. Leading single malt whisky brand The Macallan has launched its boutique programme at DXB Concourse B, in partnership with Le Clos. It is the first step in a multi-million pound investment that will see Macallan stores open across selected cities world wide.

The opening was marked by a series of events this week, including media and VIP customer dinners, plus a ribbon-cutting today at DXB. The Moodie Davitt Report was in Dubai this week for the celebrations.

The Macallan Boutique by Le Clos aims to bring the heritage and prestige of the brand to life in a standalone space. The concept takes many of its design cues from The Macallan Estate and the £140 million distillery that opened there in May 2018. It uses architecture, aesthetics and materials, and immersive features that are distinctive to the distillery and visitor experience.

Unveiling a new luxury spirits experience: (Left to right) Edrington Managing Director, Europe, Middle East & Africa Travel Retail Jeremy Speirs, MMI Group CEO Andrew Day, Dubai Airports Executive Vice President, Commercial Eugene Barry and Edrington Global Travel Retail Managing Director Suzy Smith officially open The Macallan Boutique by Le Clos

Edrington Global Travel Retail Managing Director Suzy Smith said: “It has been a year since we opened the doors of our new distillery and visitor experience, which was one of the most exciting moments in our history as a brand. The next chapter in our story is the launch of our boutique programme, which will bring whisky-lovers across the world even closer to our home on Speyside. Each store will be a gateway to the world of The Macallan, from the stunning cinematography of the Easter Elchies estate to the exceptional whisky available to taste.

“As we continue to roll out these boutiques globally, we hope more people are able to catch a glimpse into the home of the world’s most valuable single malt. Partnering with Le Clos to open the first outlet will allow us to deliver a true luxury shopping experience for travellers in our product offering and through exceptional service.”

Elegant and eye-catching: The Le Clos store in Concourse B has been transformed into a permanent standalone boutique for one of its key brand partners

There is space for tasting, relaxation and education, with video and soon VR elements to heighten the experience

Features include a striking signature oak lattice centrepiece, providing a direct visual connection to the innovative roof of the brand’s home in Speyside. Video walls show The Macallan’s brand stories, while a virtual reality tasting experience takes shoppers to Speyside through 360-degree video content that explores the history behind The Macallan estate. The immersive experience leans on expansive drone shots and personal interviews with the people behind the Estate.

The Macallan Boutique in Dubai offers a curated range of rare and exclusive whiskies, some of which will be exclusive to the boutiques. Highlights of the prestige collection include rare bottlings from the Masters of Photography, Golden Age of Travel and Exceptional Single Cask ranges. A strong pipeline of new product innovations and boutique exclusives will continue here and at other locations.

MMI Group CEO Andrew Day said: “Le Clos and The Macallan have enjoyed a record-breaking partnership for over a decade and we are incredibly proud to be honoured with opening the first global travel retail boutique for The Macallan here in DXB.

“This boutique will bring together two exceptional brands in the world of luxury spirits creating an unrivalled and immersive customer experience. This new boutique symbolises the heights we can reach with a shared vision and combined commitment to delivering the ultimate customer experience and we look forward to joining The Macallan on this exciting next stage of the journey.”

Speaking about the opening recently, Dubai Airports Executive Vice President, Commercial Eugene Barry said: “We welcome The Macallan Boutique, an extension of our longstanding partnership with Le Clos and a first for the region, and look forward to the impact a great brand collaboration like this will bring to travellers’ experience at DXB.”

The boutique features a core wall and a prestige wall, with many items only available through these stores, the distillery or online, including the new Boutique Collection

A new type of benchmark
As we reported in a recent interview with Suzy Smith, the boutique programme is a key element in Edrington’s long-term aim to build The Macallan’s luxury credentials.

Speaking to The Moodie Davitt Report in Dubai this week, she said new benchmarks for the concept would lie in the worlds of beauty and luxury, not just spirits.

“It is an evolution. You have Chanel, Dior and many other great houses, and that is where we see our comparison. That is a big change for us and it is very exciting. It’s about the showcase we can deliver. We are not experts yet but we will learn and do this in The Macallan way and in a way that fits our world.”

She said that choosing Dubai as a location and Le Clos as a partner made sound business sense.

“Our vision is for exceptional retail. Travel retail is special in that it offers a chance to engage in ways that other places can’t, to educate in ways that other places can’t and to offer a showcase that other environments can’t.

“We have worked together with Le Clos for ten years, and delivered record sale after record sale, and this week represents another spectacular milestone. It is also in Dubai, which is home to the world’s busiest international airport, and now the world’s first new concept boutique for The Macallan.”

Spirited celebration: Suzy Smith welcomes guests to a media dinner at The Jumeirah Mandarin Oriental on Tuesday night. “This is a very special event for us. It’s a pleasure to visit Dubai, with the world’s tallest building, the world’s busiest international airport, and also now the world’s first new concept boutique for The Macallan, in partnership with Le Clos.”

She added that the move marked a “step change” for the brand at retail, one inspired by the new distillery.

“The amazing new distillery opening makes for a great experience in the brand’s home in a spectacular environment. Many whisky lovers around the world won’t be able to travel to Speyside but we can pull some of that magic through and communicate it in our boutiques. Also, staff at the boutiques have visited the distillery and they can impart their own experiences and help bring it to life.

“The other thing that will give the boutiques a point of difference, apart from the environment, will be the exclusive offer. The Boutique Collection will only be online, at the distillery and at the boutiques themselves. Other rare items will only appear in the boutiques.

“It is not just for collectors though. We want people to walk in, and if they don’t buy anything but they can experience the brand, then that is OK. They may want to buy later elsewhere. It’s about engaging with the brand as much as it’s about the enthusiasts coming in and buying something they cannot find elsewhere.”

Le Clos General Manager Ben Odgers: “We have unlocked access to items we have not had before, both rare and collectible plus recent releases”

Ms Smith said that the brand owner would benchmark its success with the boutiques across a number of measurements.

“We are looking at retail performance (form sales per square footage to footfall), commercial measurements and brand experience, which means how we can affect opinions of the brand.”

The Macallan Master of Wood Stuart MacPherson takes dinner guests on a journey through brand, from the 25yo to the new Boutique Collection, on a memorable evening in Dubai (further images below)

Further roll-out plans for the boutique programme will be revealed soon. Of the choice of partners, Ms Smith added: “You have to have trust and ensure we work with people who want to work with us, with give and take on each side. All the partners in this programme will bring different elements. Le Clos is a specialist in spirits and wines, but others have experience across multiple categories and can bring their knowledge of that to bear.”

Le Clos General Manager Ben Odgers also hailed the evolution of its partnership with The Macallan, which goes back to the first store opened by the retailer at DXB a decade ago.

“We have covered many amazing milestones with The Macallan so this was a natural progression. Edrington wanted to work with a company they knew, trusted and recognised could provide the all-important service element. Dubai offers a great consumer base and a location in the centre of world travel. We are delighted to be the first to unveil this new concept.”

He noted the twin importance of environment and range that should entice travellers.

“The idea is that the interior flows through from the architecture of the distillery, with features linking it back to the brand’s home in Scotland, from the lattice work to the display walls.

“You can still walk into any other Le Clos store and find the core Macallan range. Here we have unlocked access to items we have not had before, both rare and collectible plus recent release,. We have segregated the stock from other stores so there is no replication. And you’ll find many jewels from The Macallan in the boutique.”

Service is an all-important aspect, with the team working in the boutique visiting Scotland early in 2019, as noted above. Odgers said: “Our team saw the stages of production and were immersed in the brand values, which allows them to talk about The Macallan with a depth of knowledge. We’ll soon also have a VR element allowing a full tour of the distillery, and our website has an element in it offering interactivity that helps you decide on the ideal whisky for you.

“This broadens our offer across spirits and wines. We have ten stores including this conversion from a Le Clos store to the boutique. And we have great access to over 90 million travellers a year. With great ranges across price points, our job is to educate the consumer about the brand and category.”