It's a tough job, but someone has to do it
How would it feel if you could walk into the product testing room for your favourite tipple and have a say on the next product it releases?
Fans of Scotch whisky maker The Glenlivet are being offered that chance, albeit without the need to travel to the remote Scottish highlands.
The brand has turned to "crowdsourcing" to determine its next limited edition release, inviting fans of the brand all over the world - including about 400 from Australia - to taste three contenders and vote for their favourite. Once the thousands of votes are collated early next year, a winning whisky will be proclaimed "The Guardians' Chapter", and sent to production for a limited global run of 2000 bottles to be available in March.
Australia is the first stop for the trio of three trial single-malt whiskies created by Glenlivet master distiller Alan Winchester. Invitees at a function last week at Sydney restaurant Tetsuya's became the first in the world to taste and vote on them.
The program kicked off with a nine-course dinner created for the occasion by highly regarded chef Tetsuya Wakada, an avowed fan of the Glenlivet brand who sought to match 12, 15 and 18-year-old vintages of the whisky to a menu that included dishes of ostrich, venison, salmon, foie gras and Cape Grim beef.
In a precursor to the weekend's federal election, every participant was asked to mark a ballot paper with 1, 2 and 3 to register a vote for their favourite.
Laura Hay, a Scottish-born former employee of the Glenlivet distillery who is now the brand's ambassador in Australia, says putting the decision in the hands of the brand's aficionados is a great opportunity to involve them in the process.
"It's like us taking the distillery to them instead of them having to come all the way to the bloody middle of nowhere," she says.
"People can have a voice and say, 'This is what we want from a whisky,' instead of us choosing what we are going to do. It's exciting, and it's fun, and we want people to get involved in what we're doing next."
The age of the three new varietals has not been disclosed but Hay says the key difference between them is the barrels in which they have been matured.
She believes Glenlivet is the first major whisky distillery to attempt such a strategy.
"I think it's the first time a bigger distillery has done it, taking that leap for the first time."