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Glenfiddich reveals virtual reality experience

Glenfiddich has worked with UK creative agency Purple Creative to reveal an interactive virtual reality whisky tasting experience. Called Glenfiddich Virtual Infinity, the experience was launched at the TFWA conference in Singapore and will be installed at global travel retail airport outlets from June.

The tasting allows visitors to virtually discover the flavours in each of Glenfiddich’s three Cask Collection whiskies and write their own 3D tasting notes in a virtual world.

Purple Creative and Glenfiddich saw travel retail as the ideal environment for a virtual reality experience as whisky shoppers have time on their hands and are open to trying out new tasting experiences.

Purple Creative created the HTC Vive tasting experience in partnership with Wolf In Motion, a London-based VR design and production studio.

Cask Collection whiskies are created in Glenfiddich’s Solera Vats, three large bespoke oak vats, one for each of the range, where Brian Kinsman, the malt master, marries, mellows and intermingles small batches of Glenfiddich malts.

The Select Cask Solera Vat is filled with whiskies matured in sherry, bourbon and red wine casks.

The Reserve Cask Solera Vat is filled with whiskies exclusively matured in oloroso sherry casks.

The Vintage Cask Solera Vat is filled with peaty whiskies matured in sherry and bourbon casks.

The three Cask Collection Solera Vats are tended to daily by warehousemen, who ensure the Solera Vats are always at least half full and never emptied, forever topping them up with further aged malts.

Purple Creative created the imagery for all three Cask Collection expressions – designing an abstract representation of the Solera Vat system.

In the Glenfiddich GTR area in select airports, visitors can enjoy a Cask Collection whisky tasting. They pick out the key tasting notes of each expression before putting on their VR headsets, at which point they are virtually transported into a recreation of Glenfiddich's Warehouse 8 in Dufftown, Scotland.

The three Solera Vats stand in front of them and they are surrounded by casks. They select a Solera Vat using their hand controllers and enter the world of that expression, where they are able to write and draw their own tasting notes in the air. The brush they ‘write’ with creates a ribbon effect that matches the colours and aesthetic of the beauty image. People can write above, below and all around themselves, walking through their 3D words. And they can delete their tasting notes using a scissor controller that cuts the ribbons and erases the script.

The HTC Vive offers a VR experience and has a lifelike and natural accuracy: your head and hands move with every tiny movement mapped in the virtual space. The headset is designed to utilise ‘room scale’ technology to turn a room into 3D space via sensors, with the virtual world allowing the user to navigate naturally, with the ability to walk around and use motion tracked handheld controllers to manipulate objects, interact with precision and experience environments.

This comes courtesy of the 37 sensors in the headset pairing with the sensor boxes that track your movement and position. HTC refers to this method as ‘Lighthouse’ tracking technology – because the boxes beam out guiding infrared light to the user.

Gary Westlake, founding partner and creative director, Purple Creative says: “Glenfiddich is a family run company with a rich history of innovation and pioneering, so it’s fitting that they are the first whisky company to embrace this new tech and enable drinkers to write their own virtual tasting notes.”

Coralie Vial, Glenfiddich global brand manager, adds: “VR is allowing us to interact with people in a whole new way, and the beautiful imagery that Purple created for this project means that whisky drinkers can express their tasting notes in a completely individual fashion, and in a completely new medium.”

25 May 2017 - Sam Coyne The Drinks Report, news editor