Kilchoman Distillery - Machir Bay, Islay Single Malt Whiskey with NFC Tag

For whisky lovers, a stroll down the whisky isle at their local package goods store is like a candy lover’s visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World in New York City. Your eyes get big, your mouth starts to water and then it hits you – “How do I possibly make a decision with so many wonderful choices?”

These days, with over 1,500 distilleries in the United States plus hundreds overseas it’s a challenge to get your spirits on the shelf at the local package goods store. Once you manage to get on the shelf, how do you stand out from the crowd? A new farm distillery from the Isle of Islay has decided to go high tech to help tell the story of their malt-whisky. When I say new, this 12 year old distillery was founded in 2005. That may sound old compared to craft spirits makers in the United States but that’s young compared to distilled spirits makers on the Isle of Islay where distilleries go back centuries.

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The Kilchoman Distillery makes single malt whiskys. It’s one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland and prides itself on being a “barley to bottle” farm distillery. Kilchoman produces its 100% Islay single-malt from barley that is grown in fields surrounding the distillery and completes every stage of the whisky-making process at the distillery, including traditional floor malting.

The distillery has partnered with Thin Film Electronics ASA (“Thinfilm”) a provider of NFC – Near Field Communication mobile marketing and smart packaging solutions. Kilchoman will use Thinfilm’s NFC solutions on their bottles to engage and educate consumers, communicate its distinct brand story, and if successful accelerate business growth.

The company is looking to enhance user engagement with ‘Smart’ hangtags featuring NFC SpeedTap(TM) technology that will be integrated with bottles of its two flagship whiskies – Machir Bay Single-Malt and Sanaig Single-Malt Scotch Whisky. Initially deployed in the distilleries larger European markets, SpeedTap tags will allow Kilchoman to initiate one-to-one consumer engagement experiences on-premise, in-store, and at-home – all through the simple tap of a smartphone. Kilchoman will also use Thinfilm’s CNECT(TM) platform to manage the delivery of digital content and enhance its overall effectiveness. The cloud-based software system fully integrates with the NFC tags, enabling Kilchoman to monitor real-time tapping activity, analyze campaign effectiveness, and dynamically adjust consumer experiences via a customized CNECT portal.

“We fully recognize the importance of connecting directly with our customers and providing experiences that are informative, educational and interesting,” said Anthony Wills, Founder and Managing Director of Kilchoman Distillery. “Thinfilm’s NFC solution is an ideal way to deliver this content in a seamless and simple format. We believe it will help Kilchoman strengthen existing relationships and establish many new ones.”

“Kilchoman’s unique approach is an integral component of the company’s brand and has generated a significant following among whisky enthusiasts around the globe,” said Davor Sutija, CEO of Thinfilm. “We are excited they chose our NFC solution to enhance those connections with customers and fuel additional business growth.”

8 Questions for Testing the NFC Technology on Kilchoman Whisky Bottles

We asked Peter Wills, Sales and Marketing Manager for Kilchoman Distillery a few questions about the upcoming test to find out more about what they are going to do and what they hope to learn.

Q: What are you hoping to learn from the project?
A: We are hoping to learn how and where our customers interact with Kilchoman bottles. If people scan and want more information in the shop before purchasing or at home while enjoying a dram.

Q: Is this a test of a few bottles or is a roll out to all bottles of whisky shipped?
A: This is a trial of around 10,000 bottles of Machir Bay and Sanaig in our top European markets. The trial will be on a neck tag before potentially integrating it onto the labels further down the line.

Q: Will these bottles go to bars, restaurants and retail or is this just for retail/consumer engagement?
A: This is for bars, restaurants and retail. We want to engage with everyone, both trade and consumers, to give as much information as possible on Kilchoman and what we do.

Q: NFC seems a bit high tech. Do you know how many consumers are actually using NFC?
A: NFC is a new technology but seems to be something used more and more. Companies like Adidas and Nike are starting to use it and make it mainstream, as well as Diageo in the drinks industry. This is hopefully what this trial will tell us.

Q: Have you tried any other interactive smartphone technologies? Say a QR code?
A: We had the potential to use QR codes, which are a cheaper option but for flexibility, ease of use and integrating it in the packaging the NFC technology was the far better option.

Q: Can you share with us what the customer experience will be like once they scan the bottle tag?
A: We haven’t finalized the exact page the users will see as yet. This is being launched in January and will be ready to go then.

Q: What is the additional cost per bottle to run the technology?
A: We are not able to share cost information publicly.

Q: What data will you be collecting?
A: We will be able to get data on where, when and how many times each bottle is tapped.

We’ll keep you posted as results come in from Kilchoman Distillery and Thinfilm.

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