Food & Drinks

Macallan Whisky Goes Online to Woo Shy Spenders

From left, Sanele Gwala, Regional Marketing
From left, Sanele Gwala, Regional Marketing Manager , Jackline Mburu, the Area Manager - East Africa & Indian Ocean Countries (Ctr) and Dada Maseko, The Macallan Brand Ambasador - Sub-Sahara Africa, displaying the Triple Cask Matured series of 12-year-old, 15-year-old and 18-year-old Macallan Whisky that was introduced in Kenya by Edrington Africa. PHOTO | COURTESY 

How do you sell Sh1 million whisky aged for 50 years? Luxury single malt whisky Macallan believes using the Internet to spot wealthy Kenyans willing to buy the premium brand and locking this market.

Jackline Mburu, the Edrington regional manager East Africa says the six years they have been in the Kenyan market has helped them understand the exact customer they are looking for.

She says the Kenyan high-end drinker unlike the Nigerian or South African is shy about the price tag on their whisky and will only flaunt it with friends.

“Consumption in this market is growing but Kenya’s authentic luxury is quiet if you compare with other markets. Kenyans tend to be quiet but will call close friends to share a bottle of these high-end brands,” Jackline said.

“So we want to position ourselves as a high-end brand for the quietly successful, but also as an everyday drink,” she said.


The firm is targeting to push about 1,000 cases annually in the next five years which saw them introduce a new range of aged whiskies into the market last week.

The whisky maker had limited itself to its premium brands of Amber that retails at Sh7,900, Sienna at Sh12,500 and Ruby at Sh28,000 but plans to ride on the new wave for aged whiskies.

Nkululeko Maseko, the sub-Saharan Africa brand ambassador says the new selection is not a move away from their process of making the drink but rather use of refill casks which give the whisky a darker full bodied taste that is heavy on the palate compared to the 1824 range.

He said the firm spends up to Sh2.2 billion a year on casks from America and Spanish oak. Macallan uses ex-sherry casks that take six years to prepare at the cost of Sh125,000 a cask and controls a sizeable share of sherry casks.

Initially, Macallan Distillers wholly owned subsidiary of the Edrington Group, which launched in the Kenyan market in 2012 supplied on order before singing up Wines of the World (WoW beverages).

The firm now says its strategy will leverage on e-commerce and select locations to drive its marketshare by using data to identify the right consumer profile and target supply.

Macallan has entered into a two-year distribution deal with Jeyfine Wines after their agreement with WoW beverages lapsed last year.

Jeyfine Wines co-founder Joseph King'ori said they hope to double the sales by reaching customers directly via their Moba e-commerce platform.

Joseph said the crackdown on consolidated imported consignment by the government will help select distributors shore up supply channels.

“The ongoing crackdown will cut out some of the suppliers in favour of genuine distributors which will help us consolidate our market share,” he said.

Jeyfine Wines operates 100 bars and 50 stockists.