Anyone who knows me will know just how much I love whisky and how I yearn to visit Scotland again. So when Checkers Liquorshop announced that they were running a competition and the winner would be flying over to Scotland to help pick their next single cask release for the Private Barrel Co range, I went into overdrive!
The competition itself, dubbed “Are Ya Mac Enough?”, was fairly straightforward. Answer a series of multiple choice questions to prove your “Scottish-ness” and write a short piece on why you should be selected. The winner would end up choosing a single cask from either the Loch Lomond or Glen Scotia distilleries and this single cask would be released under Checker’s House of Fine Whisky Private Barrel Co label. And, the winner gets bottle number 1 too!
I hopped onto the Checkers Liquorshop website a minute after the competition email arrived in my inbox, I flew through the questions, hammered out some prose on why I should be selected and was about to hit the ‘Enter’ button, but something in my brain yelled “WAIT!!!!” as my finger hovered over my mouse button.
I paused, composed myself, and then had the realization… If I was to stand a chance, I would have to do something *special*, especially as creativity would count a lot towards the judging panel’s final decision. So I closed my browser and went away on holiday for a week – the holiday was planned, I didn’t take it to think over the competition entry just in case you were wondering. 😉
It was while I was sitting on our balcony, sipping on a whisky, overlooking the Mpumpalanga bushveld as the sun set between the hills in the distance, that I had my “Eureka!” moment. I would build a website to go with my entry!!
Returning home, I basically locked myself in my office over a weekend and carefully crafted my site:
- I wanted to include a video that showcased all of what Scotland had to offer. This great video from VisitScotland captured my feelings towards the country beautifully, and also featured Loch Lomond itself. Perfect!
- Then, I wanted to stir the soul, so found this great rendition of the folk song “Loch Lomond”, performed by The Corries. Bang, in it went!
- Next, an introduction that highlighted my journey with the Private Barrel Co and Loch Lomond/Glen Scotia whiskies so far.
- Then, I wanted to represent each question visually, so I trawled the web looking for suitable imagery. It was important for me to draw in references to Loch Lomond, Glen Scotia and the Private Barrel Co range to tie everything together, so that’s why we have Ian McAlister – master distiller at Glen Scotia – featured, as well as some of the Glen Scotia and Private Barrel Co whiskies.
- To further add to the creativity, I decided to add a small comment under each question. And I wanted the person visiting the site to be drawn further into all things Scottish, so I sat with several English-to-Scottish slang websites open, and tried to make each phrase as authentic as possible.
- Finally, the piece motivating why I should be picked. I also couldn’t resist using the ginger-bearded Scotsman’s image that had been used to promote the competition. It’s a great pic.
After fine-tweaking it some more, I submitted my entry and then sat, waiting and hoping that my phone would ring…
Just when I had given up hope, believing that someone out there had put together a better entry, I got the call. “Mark, congratulations, you’re our winner! You’re going to Scotland!”
MUSIC TO MY EARS!!
I can’t express just how thrilled I am to be heading over again. Thank you Checkers for the opportunity! And believe me, I will be taking my responsibility very seriously. I want to play my part in bringing the very best whisky that Loch Lomond/Glen Scotia have to offer back to SA, so we can all enjoy a great Private Barrel Co single cask release!
If you would like to see my competition entry, you can visit it here: http://fr1day.co.za/what-mac-am-i/. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments below!