With nearly eight million fans Manchester United fans in the U.S., Scotch brand Chivas Regal is looking to blend a growing U.S. Scotch market with that rabid fanbase.
Chivas 13 Manchester United Limited Edition hits shelves in the U.S., the first time a 13-year-old Chivas whisky is released in America. It is being partly done to celebrate the team’s 13 Premier League wins under former manager Alex Ferguson.
Chivas first partnered with Manchester United in 2018 as the team’s official global spirits brand as the spirits brand looked to connect the art of blending spirits to sports – and life – said Shefali Murdia, Pernod Ricard’s director of brand engagement for Chivas.
“Blending has been in our DNA ever since James and John Chivas pioneered the art in 19th century Scotland,” Murdia said. “Partnering with Manchester United was, therefore, a natural fit; we both firmly believe that great things can be achieved when we come together – from balancing the perfect blend of malt and grain whiskies that go into our Scotch, to using the perfect combination of players’ skills on the pitch to create a winning team.”
As both Premier League soccer and Scotch are popular imports to the U.S. with plenty of fans, Chivas felt blending the two with the special Scotch release was a step in bringing together new fans. And there’s certainly more room for Scotch activations in the U.S., as Scotch exports from the United Kingdom hit an all-time high of $4.07 billion in 2018, and according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the U.S. contributed $2.3 billion to the exports. For comparison, bourbon and Tennessee whiskey generated $3.6 billion.
To further appeal to the American palate for the special release, Chivas aged the brand’s house style in American rye barrels, which Murdia said helps accentuate the whisky’s “sweet delicate notes.” The labels feature the Manchester United coloring and club imagery and Ferguson’s signature.
Beyond the release of the special whisky, Chivas is bringing a tour of viewing parties for the team’s “House of United” fan club. Murdia mentioned parties in Miami, Los Angeles, and San Antonio this fall and winter. The events are free, streaming matches with game day food and team merchandise.
“We feel that sports are a great way to tap into moments of time when consumers are naturally gathering for a cocktail and food,” Murdia said. “We try to partner with a sports team that embodies and shares our value for blended success.”
It’s not the first time Chivas has released a special whisky to celebrate Manchester United accomplishments. The brand also released the Chivas The Icon 50th Anniversary Edition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the team’s 1968 European Cup victory. That whisky was sold at auction house Sotheby’s for $27,937 – the most expensive Chivas product with the proceeds benefiting the Manchester United Fund.
Additionally, Chivas also released Chivas Ultis 1999 Victory Edition, a 20-year-old blend of three single malts from 1999. Each of those malts represents one of Manchester United’s cup victories from the 1999 season.
In the past, Chivas Regal has partnered with middleweight boxer Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
Murdia said Chivas is currently focused on its deal with Manchester United and will see it through as the three-year deal as it winds down. The partnership started as an entry into sports for Chivas as it sought to find a “high-performing” sports team embodying the same brand values, said Murdia, continuing with the blending puns.
“Who better to partner with than one of the most successful football teams that have shown time and time again that the perfect blend of individuals can lead to greater success, on and off the pitch,” Murdia said. “With blending being an integral part of our brand, we felt that partnering with Manchester United was a strategic partnership to showcase the power of a blended group of individuals all working together to create success and ultimately win one of the most-watched sporting events in the world.”