Johnnie Walker’s Flavor Profiler pairs whisky lovers with the blends best suited to their tastes.
The idea of a whisky tasting brings to mind the smell of old books, dapper suits, and a bit of old-school pretense. Instead of an expert talking about flavor notes and swirling a glass, Johnnie Walker wanted to reinvent the tasting experience and remove some of the stuffy aspects that tend to go along with it. They partnered with South African social media agency Society to create the Flavor Profiler, a “mobile sensorium experience” designed to help people find their perfect flavor match in the Johnnie Walker range, and to take some of the mystery out of sampling.
Designed to feel more like luxury luggage than a tech gadget, the interactive profiler is housed in a sleek black leather case and contains scents kept in glass vials and amuse-bouche plates with flavors ranging from crystallized ginger to a pepper wafer. Society worked with local whisky experts and the Johnnie Walker team to identify the key flavors and aromas in their line, and assigned a specific weighting to each elemental choice. Users are instructed to select two flavors, two scents and a type of music to denote their mood. Manufactured by design consultancy Thingking, sensors in the box register the person’s selection, and a mirrored panel reveals which Johnnie Walker blend will best suit them and their mood.
“Some elements are shared across the different blends,” explains Society’s Creative Director Daniel Pinch. “We created an algorithm that selected the most appropriate blend based on two choices from a selection of twelve flavors, and another two choices from twelve aromas.” In terms of the music selection, each type of Johnnie Walker inspires its own mood and personality. “Down tempo and sophisticated works with a more private blend like Platinum Label,” Pinch tells PSFK. “Lively and upbeat suits a more celebratory blend like Gold Label Reserve.”
This project also shows how a brand can bring an interactive experience typically found online into the real world. “The design of the profiler is deliberately analog in feel,” explains Pinch. “Sensors are used to register choices – by moving tasting plates or fragrance bottles – but we wanted the technology to be discreet to focus users on the experience.” Instead of clicking and choosing each scent online, the Flavor Profiler lets you experience each sense in the real world.
While the gadget is a one-off for now, it’s part of the larger King of Flavour campaign by Johnnie Walker that also includes an online version of the experience.