Johnnie Walker House pops up

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By Kap Maceda Aguila

THE WORLD’S leading Scotch whisky is also known for its so-called Johnnie Walker Houses “designed to immerse (patrons) in the history, provenance, and pioneering spirit of the… brand,” as a “lifestyle space and part museum (which brings together) luxury whisky innovation with art, design, fine-dining, and culture.”

Presently, there are six Johnnie Walker House locations outside of Scotland — four flagships in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Seoul, and two retail boutiques at Taoyuan International Airport (Taiwan) and Mumbai International Airport (India). Additional retail boutiques are set to be opened at Changi Airport (Singapore) and Schiphol Amsterdam Airport (Netherlands).

Last Friday, the first-ever Johnnie Walker House (a pop-up one) opened shop in Southeast Asia — more specifically, at the Burgos Park in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. At its heart is a highball bar where guests can order featured Johnnie Walker variants in exciting blends. At the opening, invitees were treated to a trio of interesting mixers: Black Smoky Highball (Johnnie Walker Black Label, ginger ale, burnt rosemary, and salt), Double Black Creamy Highball (Johnnie Walker Double Black, soda water, honey, and desiccated coconut), and Gold Fruity Highball (Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, apple juice, apple slice, and brown sugar).

More than just a pop-up bar and store, the Johnnie Walker House is also an events place, said Diageo Philippines marketing director Cesar Gangoso to this writer. It will host “Johnnie Weekends… events in collaboration with local trailblazers in music, film, photography, and art.” Mr. Gangoso added that patrons can expect “unique serves inspired by different passion points.”

There will be quiz nights, too, plus “bar takeovers” by noted bartenders in Manila. Guests can also do their different versions of the highball. Through the Johnnie Walker House, the company is expecting Filipinos to “rediscover the smooth, smoky taste of the whisky… and rediscover its different blends.”

On Oct. 12, a pre-game show for All of the Noise 2018 Music Festival will feature sets by Sandwich, Cheats, Jason Dhakal, and others. AXN takes over the House on Oct. 19 with a “Freedom Fridays” event with live performances, games, and giveaways. On Oct. 20, Purveyr kicks off the #JohnnieWeekend x Sound Fiesta live series.

Open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays until Oct. 25, the Johnnie Walker pop-up will move to 11 other locations in Metro Manila. The next staging will be at Greenbelt 3 at the Ayala Center in Makati City from Nov. 18 to Dec. 28. Mr. Gangoso hints that as the Makati pop-up store will open nearer to and until Christmas, patrons can expect gift ideas such as personalization, Blue Label engraving, stickering, and labeling.

There have been requests to open pop-ups in Cebu and Davao, too, and the executive intimated to BusinessWorld that parent company Diageo is “planning a permanent House in the city.” That is expected to be a venue for showcasing rarer kinds of Johnnie Walker blends or editions, and serve as a true museum of the iconic whisky.