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This week I attended the launch of McKenna bourbon in Brisbane. The press launch is normally reserved for traditional press, but showing an appreciate for new media, Lion Nathan invited me along with several other Brisbane based bloggers to attend the celebration.

Bloggers are not like the traditional press. They are not bound by the rules of an editor, and more often than not, they are not paid for their stories. However, bloggers and podcasters can be very powerful allies in getting accurate branding messages diffused throughout a target demographic.


The McKenna launch was a lavish affair. DJ’s played music, people danced partied and celebrated the product launch in style. To help attendees remember that McKenna is “Double Distilled”, about 20 twin models paired up to form a welcomming party, and then promptly began serving guests with McKenna and cola bottles.

Japanese Ice sculptors carved out a large replica of the McKenna bourbon bottle to exceptional detail.

I got to meet several employees of Lion Nathan who were eager to explain the product details. I especially enjoyed the conversation with Vimpi who was influencial in recognising the potential of bloggers. He ensured we tasted the straight version of the Bourbon and went to great length to explain the heritage of Henry McKenna .. of which a summary can now be found online.

Vimpi Juneja explained that Henry McKenna Bourbon was so pure that it was even used as an anaesthetic. What impressed me was Vimpi Juneja’s insistence that any coverage that we gave to the event should be honest and he encouraged suggestions and / or criticisms.

Meeting several of the bloggers was a highlight.
Alborz Fallah from Newbrisbane, and Caradvice was there and it was pleasing to hear that car companies have taken notice and are starting to engage Alborz to test drive new cars.
Amanda Willmot who writes a very expressive blog on life in Brisbane
Gavin Handley who’s blog Just Like Music is unearthing many new bands around the world by helping to promote and distribute music samples.
We discussed the value of bloggers to promoting products, the ethics involved in being honest as well as what the future holds for new media such as blogs and podcasts in the product life cycle.

I am not really a Bourbon drinker, but I can say that I was impressed with the smoothness of the drink. The packaging appears up-market and will come in two strengths – 6% and a potent 9%. What I would suggest is that the heritage of Henry McKenna should be included in 6-packs of the product, particularly in the early launch phase to ensure that this is adequately communicated.

I shall closely follow the blogosphere over the next few weeks endevouring to see the effect of what a few bloggers might have on the diffusion of the new double distilled McKenna Bourbon.

Here’s some photos from the event.

Perspective: It is great to see a large company embrace bloggers and show them the same privellage to that of the traditional press. I suspect the impact of a few bloggers will help position the product as “edgy” and “in tune” with the youth of today.