Interview With Fiona Alder: Edrington UK’s Stillhouse Podcast Creator and Head of Portfolio and Planning

Nine Stillhouse Podcast episodes are now live on all major streaming services

Fiona Alder

Earlier in the Summer, we brought you news that Edrington UK had launched Stillhouse, a podcast dedicated to exploring and celebrating dark spirits. The initial run of nine episodes are all now live, so it seemed like the perfect time to speak to one of the team behind the show to find out why Edrington UK launched Stillhouse, how they put the episodes together, and what comes next for the podcast.

Fiona Alder has spent twenty years in the drinks industry, working with beer, wine, and spirits both off and on-trade. Previously head of marketing at Bibendum, Fiona is now head of portfolio and planning at Edrington UK, and drove the research, insight and creation of the Stillhouse Podcast. If BarLifeUK were Variety and  podcasts were TV, we would probably describe Fiona Alder as the showrunner…

BLUK: Hello Fiona! Tell us about the Stillhouse Podcast. Can you describe why you chose to launch a podcast dedicated to dark spirits, and your thought process for selecting the subjects it features?
FA: Absolutely. The Stillhouse Podcast is dedicated to celebrating all things dark spirits. We wanted to create an engaging forum for conversation to showcase the varied and exciting opportunities the category presents through new serves and occasions. The nine episodes are based on the nine growth drivers identified in our Edrington UK Category vision, a framework grounded in insight from each consumption moment that brings together the results from bespoke ‘usage and attitudes’ consumer survey, combined with extensive research from the UK’s leading dark spirit experts.

BLUK: I understand a piece of research carried out by Edrington UK on dark spirits usage and attitudes played a role in the creation of the Stillhouse episodes. Can you give our readers some insights into the sort of questions this research explored?
FA: We wanted to gain as much perspective and context on the current status of the category as possible. Our questions explored topics of taste, flavour, occasions and food, seasonality, gifting, mixing, cocktails to best understand the ways to tap into the growth opportunity. Dark Spirits consumers in the one trade have broader repertoires and are 34% more likely to trade-up.

BLUK: Edrington UK has some fantastic dark spirits brands in its portfolio, and BarLifeUK are old friends with David Miles, your excellent whisky ambassador. Do you think any of these brands, or the categories they belong to, are being underutilised by cocktail bars in the UK?
FA: Dark spirits are fast becoming a popular option on UK cocktail lists due to their versatility and premium nature. According to our research, the full potential of dark spirits is still untapped, however. Utilising creative mixers that make the most of natural and fresh ingredients is a way to incentivise year-round drinking and recruit new consumers to the category.

BLUK: How did you and the team decide who should appear as a guest on each episode?
FA: We wanted to ensure that the spread of guests spanned both the on and off-trade sector. The team and I were selective to ensure that each guest suited each episode topic, and we wanted our guests to be an authority in their field but bring a unique perspective to inspire conversation. This was important because of the educational and inspiring nature of the podcast. We were delighted with our guest’s genuine enthusiasm for the category which really shines through each episode.

BLUK: Forgetting ‘real life’ for a moment, if you could choose a guest from any point in history, real or fictitious, who would be your ideal fantast podcast guest?
FA: Keanu Reeves – fan since point Break in early 90’s and huge whisky fan – as seen by his partnership with House of Suntory to mark the brand’s centennial. Keanu features in a video tribute directed by Sofia Copola, a documentary short and photography.

BLUK: Once the initial run of episodes is live, do you have plans to start a second season, perhaps looking at other sectors?
FA: We are delighted with how the first series has gone. At Edrington UK, we continue to invest heavily in consumer and customer research and being able to share this with everyone has been very rewarding. We still feel that there is so much more to share and insights to give, so stay tuned!

You can listen to The Stillhouse Podcast on Spotify here.