The ART of fine spirits – an exclusive interview with James Slack, Global Brand Director of Chivas Regal

CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed  James Slack, Global Brand Director, Chivas Regal, a brand owned by Pernod Ricard.

Your company has recently released a spectacular artistic project in collaboration with Pininfarina. What is the primary purpose of such projects?

Chivas 18 by Pininfarina is a natural extension of the creative collaborations the brand has fostered in recent years. Chivas 18 understands design and has a proven history of working with iconic visionaries in this field. Joining forces with Pininfarina felt instinctive. Pininfarina has been a crusader in Italian design and engineering since 1930, Chivas Regal is the original luxury whisky blend, established in 1909.  We both share a rich heritage but thrive on looking forward. We hope our current Chivas 18 customer will love this exciting collaborative first and that it will also attract new, modern whisky connoisseurs.  The aerodynamic, effortless aesthetic and accessibility of the expressions in terms of price point also makes it attractive for gifting occasions.

What are the key attributes you seek when considering an association between Chivas and another brand? To what extent do these associations relate to lifestyle?  

We look for partners with a similar vision and the same values as Chivas 18. We have to complement each other for the partnership to be interesting to our consumers. Chivas 18 is an authentic brand with a strong heritage and a contemporary vision; this is also the foundation on which Pininfarina is built on, which makes us great partners. This is definitely something that relates to the lifestyle of our consumers. Modern gentleman are on a permanent quest for beauty, harmony and, ultimately, pleasure. At the core of what they seek from brands is substance – heritage, craftsmanship – but this has to be presented with a contemporary vision that is relevant to their lifestyle – the present, the future. We take a lot of value from our past, but as visionaries we are always looking forward

Please tell us more about similar future projects.  

Chivas 18 has a history of partnering with leaders in design; we are also always looking into the future – what’s next, what will our consumers desire in a year’s time, two years’ time? We can’t tell you right now but we’re excited about the years ahead and we hope our modern gentleman are too.

Given the wide availability of your products and visibility especially at airports and supermarkets, how do you maintain the positioning of Chivas? Do you consider Chivas a luxury brand?

Chivas is the original luxury whisky blend, established in 1909. We absolutely consider ourselves a luxury brand – but most importantly, so do our customers. They expect us to stimulate their senses, partner with design visionaries, and ultimately inspire them. Visibility for Chivas 18 – the bright blues, the rich golds – is essential to the consistency of our brand image, no matter if our customer is at the airport or in a New York bar.

When it comes to spirits, how would you define premium versus luxury?  

I’m sure many people would have a different way of answering this, but I would say luxury refers to something special, something with history, but again, something with a contemporary relevance.

What are the direct competitors for the Chivas brand and what sets Chivas apart?  

Chivas is a brand with a set of values we don’t compare against other brands. It’s a brand that stands for something – a brand with the right balance between style, substance and exclusivity. Let’s not forget it’s also a Scotch whisky, a drink to be shared with friends.

How important is social media in your marketing activities and what are your most recent initiatives?

Social media is a key part of how we reach our modern gentleman. We have an active presence on Facebook and recently launched a partnership with Mexican film company Canana, using Facebook as our main activation channel. Check out for more information.

India, South Africa, China and Brazil have been seeing a boom in consumption of fine spirits. How do you approach each market in terms of segmentation and approach to retail?  

Chivas is part of Chivas Brothers, the global brand owner of the Scotch whisky and premium gin business of Pernod Ricard. Our Group owned distribution arm looks after the sales of our products in individual markets such as those you’ve mentioned. This approach ensures local markets apply local knowledge and expertise to sell our product in the most efficient ways.

What is the profile of a connoisseur in fine spirits and what would he or she be seeking in terms of quality? Have tastes and preferences changed in the past years?   Connoisseurs are seeking a combination of substance – expert craftsmanship and know-how – and style – modernity, luxury. Tastes and preferences change as fast as trends go out of style, but true connoisseurs know what they like and have the knowledge to transcend beyond what is cool right now.

The Chivas 18 Mascherone by Pininfarina