Corby merges whisky with hockey fandom

The company's JP Wiser's whisky brand has partnered with the NHL Alumni Association on an "Alumni Whisky Series."


With the launch of a limited edition whisky series late last year, Corby Spirit and Wine is leveraging Canadians’ love of hockey through a partnership between its JP Wiser’s whisky brand and the NHL Alumni Association.

Dubbed the “Alumni Whisky Series,” the collection includes a series of bottles designed to celebrate legendary retired hockey players, starting with Guy Lafleur, Wendel Clark and Lanny McDonald. As a tribute to the provinces in which they played – Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, respectively –  each $45 bottle of player-branded whisky was launched as a regional exclusive.

Corby-mainThe initiative aims to “collectively pay homage to the long-standing history behind hockey and Canadian whisky in our country,” says Derek Wagner, assistant brand manager of Canadian whisky at Corby. In support of that goal, a percentage of the proceeds is going to the NHL Alumni Association, which serves retired players, youth and local hockey communities through various charitable initiatives.

The limited edition series “allows us to us to speak to the fact that Canadian whisky is extremely versatile and represents our commitment to continue leading and developing innovative product releases in the category,” Wagner says.

Corby partnered with Pigeon Brands, a Toronto- and Montreal-based design firm, on the packaging and design. As part of the creative process, the team at Pigeon held a hockey round-table session and invited hockey fans to discuss their favourite players and memories of the sport. In the end, says the agency’s Fiona Birot, account lead on the Corby business, consumers felt recognizing each players’ personality and style was most important.

JP-WiserIn addition to sporting each player’s name and profile, the whiskies have unique taste profiles. Their labels were designed to have a vintage look with sepia tones and copper accents, giving them a nostalgic and collectible feel.

Flexibility in the concept was also key, as Corby intends to continue rolling out addition whiskies as part of the series. New bottles are expected to launch in April, followed by others in the fall.

“We needed to ensure that the design architecture could span across multiple players and launches,” Wagner says, adding that the current label style “permits us to execute on the longer term vision we have planned for the Alumni Whisky Series.”