Storyman is a premium blended Scotch whisky, created by Annandale Distillery and personally selected by renowned actor and raconteur James Cosmo. While the marketplace offers many celebrity-endorsed spirits, Storyman stands apart. Its uniqueness lies in its creation from scratch, utilising the cutting-edge insight, product, and brand development capabilities of the MMR Family.
MMR Founding Directors, Professor David Thomson and Teresa Church purchased Annandale Distillery as a derelict site. Over seven years, he completely restored it to become an award-winning single cask, single malt distillery. With Storyman, the distillery set out to pioneer a new approach to R&D, harnessing the marketing services expertise within the wider MMR Group.
James Cosmo visited the distillery, built on land once owned by Robert the Bruce, while filming for "Outlaw King." This made it a natural partnership for the whisky-loving actor when he sought to create a whisky. The challenge was how to authentically embody his unique character and appeal in the brand and the product.
The initial research challenge for MMR was to go beyond merely arousing initial curiosity. The goal was to create a credible connection between James, the whisky, and the brand's creative execution. Traditional product research often measures 'liking' as an indicator of likely market success. While important for encouraging initial trial, it's the emotional outcomes delivered by brands that lead to long-term loyalty.
Transcending mere 'liking' in consumer research to understand a brand’s potential to activate desirable emotional outcomes is extremely challenging. MMR Research applied a new methodology called Concept Profiling to the blended whisky development process. This built a precise "concept profile" of the non-valence "key motivating concepts" most associated with James Cosmo.
By rigorously understanding what James Cosmo truly means to the target audience, MMR could build a brand and product brief of unparalleled depth and clarity. This concept profile would ensure conceptual consonance—to ensure product authenticity—and be used to choose design routes most likely to encourage repeat purchases.
MMR converted James’ concept profile into a sensory brief for Annandale Distillery’s Master Blender. Various options were created, each accompanied by a detailed sensory description. Each underwent conceptual profiling to ensure a match with James’s profile. The final blend was personally selected by James, ensuring it was the one that most closely matched his own conceptual profile.
Brand strategists at Huxly conducted consumer co-creation groups across England and Scotland. These groups revealed that whisky is associated with storytelling—deep, nostalgic conversations that occur in moments of warmth and familiarity. This insight fitted perfectly with James’s persona and concept profile, leading to the creation of the Storyman brand.
Bottle designs based on the Storyman premise were conceptually profiled. The final design closely matched James Cosmo’s profile and became the creative identity for Storyman.
Interestingly, this design also showed the highest likelihood of trial among the target audience.
Storyman launched in Summer 2023. Made in small batches with a high single malt content, it offers a smooth, well-rounded flavour with hints of toffee, caramel, and spiced fruits—perfect for sharing alongside a story or two.
Available in all good whisky stores and via Annandale Distillery, it retails at £50. Creative campaigns developed by the creative agency Together will support its continued success. Sales are exceeding expectations, and the product has secured US distribution.
This story of Storyman showcases the power of close collaboration among manufacturers, research, and brand agencies—not easy, but a feat the MMR Family is pleased to achieve.
We believe Storyman is the only whisky brand built in this manner, explicitly to forge stronger, long-lasting product-consumer relationships. We also think it’s one of the best blended Scotch whiskies available – but why not decide for yourself with a dram or two?
Prof. David Thomson
The MMR Family is a leading independent marketing services group,