When most people think about innovation, they think about a constant flow of new ideas. That, of course, is a healthy strategy. But innovation can also be about creating a legacy. This is the lesson I learned from a glass of whisky. More accurately, from whisky glass.

Last week I received a gift from a friend who happens to be a whisky maker. I’ve long been interested in whisky, not just to drink, but also to understand how they are made, the different regions, tastes, aromas, etc. My gift was the Official Whisky Glass. And in this glass I found a little slice of marketing genius.

The Official Whisky Glass

This is the story of the Glencairn Glass

The Glencairn Crystal company is a Scottish crystal and glassware maker. Founder Raymond Davidson had long been aware that whilst wine, champagne and brandy all had their own glass, whisky did not. After 20 years or so of thinking about it, he finally decided to do something about it. He would create the official whisky glass.

The team at Glencairn sought expert advice from Master Blenders at major whisky distilleries in the country. Ultimately, they came up with a design that all agreed was the perfect glass for whisky. The first Glencairn Glass was produced in 2001 and it remains to this day the only glass endorsed by the Scotch Whisky Association.

One and Only

In terms of seeking industry endorsements, mattress manufactures have a done a similar thing by getting chiropractors to support their claims of, well…support. Some toothbrush companies did the same by getting dentists to espouse the virtues of their brushes. But by being the first to create the industry standard, Glencairn have established themselves as the one and only.

What is super-interesting to me is to take these lessons from other industries and apply it to your own.

Think about what feature or product or service is absolutely core to your industry – like a drinking glass is to the whisky industry. Is there an official industry standard product for it? If not, go and create it – then claim it. Consult the relevant experts, get buy in from the key associations, then go and become the one and only.

Here endeth the lesson

Remember innovation and legacy are not mutually exclusive.


NB: Thanks to Ian McWilliam of Glenfarclas Distillery for the lesson!



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here