Every year, around this time, we visit family in Scotland. I make my way to Grantown-on-Spey, which is at the heart of Speyside, a very important area for the whisky industry and this got me thinking about the state of the whisky industry and all things 'brand Scotland'. What with the independence vote for Scotland just around the corner, as one of the country's major exports, it's an interesting time to think about the future of the sector - how is it going to continue to grow; how will it be relevant to the next generation of potential drinkers; what role will innovation play in all of this?
My annual pilgrimage this year also coincides with the return to our screens of Mad Men and the Cutty Sark sipping Don Draper. The industry must be licking its lips at the prospect. In January this year, the term 'Mad Men Effect' was widely used in Australian marketing circles as research by Roy Morgan Research demonstrated that for the first time ever young drinkers there have surpassed the over 65's as the largest group of whisky drinkers.
And last week, we saw the announcement that David Beckham is to partner with The Haig Club to promote its new whisky. A fantastic looking bottle and an internationally regarded under 40 style icon looks like a smart move by Diageo in broadening the appeal to a younger demographic.
Most elite footballers and athletes would be ill advised to be seen to be overtly partnering with brands that are not consistent with healthy living or performance such as alcohol or fast food. So it is interesting to see the fusion of elite athlete turned style icon, even businessman, David Beckham, the ex-footballer, with a whisky.
That said, there appears to be little or no negativity in alcohol brands associating themselves with football rather than footballers. This season's FA Cup is sponsored by Budweiser and the UEFA Champions League has long had close links with Heineken.
The Scotch Whisky Association published its annual export report last Friday and it shows that the drink continues to grow in popularity around the world with big increases in exports to USA, France and Brazil with single malts are doing particularly well. Three countries where Beckham would certainly be a household name
So, I raise a glass to Diageo, and to Brand Beckham, for creating a partnership that could be a blend made in heaven - it's a long long way from Leytonstone.