Johnnie HighballNew releases

World-first Johnnie Walker Black RTD launches in Australia

Johnnie Walker Black has added its first-ever RTDs to the mix with the Johnnie & Blood Orange Highball and the Johnnie & Lemon Highball.

The drinks offer a vibrant combination of fruit soda flavours and rich, smoky whisky. It’s a timely release – the highball is one of Australia’s hottest cocktails right now. While the drink originated in the United States in the 1800s, it was elevated to an art form in Japan about 60 years ago, with icy cold temperature and high carbonation levels being regarded as being vitally important by bartenders.

Melissa Maidment, Marketing Manager for Whiskey at Diageo, says there were a lot of eyes on the creation of the product to ensure it was an appropriately premium addition to the Johnnie Walker Black stable.

“Johnnie Walker has a long and successful history with premix drinks in Australia with the core Red Label mixed with cola,” she said. “That being said, the new Johnnie Walker Highballs are the first premix product featuring Johnnie Walker Black Label in the world.

“The ambition for Johnnie Walker Highballs is to level up the category and the premix drinking experience, in a way that stays true to Johnnie Walker’s values of pushing boundaries and creating new experiences.”

The new RTD also has a higher ABV than many other whisky premixes on the market, at 6.3%.

“As the first premix to use our premium Johnnie Walker Black Label as a base, we wanted to ensure that the world class Scotch Whisky in it shone through as a real hero of the flavour,” Maidment explained. “The result is a liquid that has a more accessible flavour profile than the traditional serves of scotch (neat or over ice) without compromising on showcasing the rich and varied flavours of our Black Label Scotch Whisky.”

Johnnie Highball

The drink has been created to target both existing whisky fans and new consumers who may have thought whisky wasn’t for them because the flavours were too strong.

“We know that Aussies are more experimental than ever with the drinks they are making and enjoying,” said Maidment. “The highball is an easy and flavourful choice for those wanting to try something new without it being too complicated to make yourself. It also works beautifully with a variety of food, which makes it perfect for both at home dinner parties and people looking for a delicious Aperitivo drink in the on premise.”

She said initial reaction from the off-premise had been very positive.

“Where it has been ranged so far it has exceeded our expectations in sales, which shows that there is real appetite from consumers for premium premix offerings and new, refreshing flavour profiles in Scotch whisky,” she said.

RTDs are one of the strongest performing categories in Australia right now. LMG’s National Merchandise Manager for Beer, Spirits and RTDs, Scot Hayman, recently told Drinks Digest that RTD dollar sales for the group were up +40.2% over the 12 months to March 2021 compared to the previous year.

Maidment puts their popularity down to having a convenient format and refreshing taste, together with the breadth of flavour offerings in the category.

“Consumers are looking for easier drinking liquids and the premix absolutely delivers on this,” she said. “We have also seen a big shift in consumption behaviours in the past year with people socialising at home more. Premix lends itself strongly to these at-home occasions.” 

Johnnie & Blood Orange Highball and Johnnie & Lemon Highball are available in your local Liquorland, Vintage Cellars, First Choice and independent liquor stores nationwide and online now. RRP $26.99 for 250ml x4-pack, ABV 6.3%, 1.4 standard drinks per serve.

Why RTDs are the world’s fastest growing spirits category

Categories: New releases