When it comes to thinking of gift packages, a high-end bourbon and made-to-order shoe wouldn’t seem to go hand in hand (or in this case, feet). But that hasn’t stopped Basil Hayden’s small batch bourbon whiskey and Quoddy’s leather footwear from partnering for the upcoming holiday season – announcing a pricy gift set well ahead of the shopping season.
Typically, liquor companies spend much of the fall months announcing quirky holiday gift sets or fancy limited edition bottles to lure shoppers. Media pitches often start in September, with products debuting in November and December.
Basil Hayden’s, a small but popular whiskey brand owned by Beam Suntory, announced it is working with Quoddy shoes to sell just 100 gift sets priced at $400. The sets include a pair of custom made, co-branded Basil Hayden/Quoddy shoes, a leather gift box, and four glasses that are wrapped in the same leather that are used to make the shoes. The sets will debut on Huckberry.com in November.
“The brands are rooted in the same beginnings and have stayed true to them today,” Rob Nelson, a senior brand manager at spirits maker Beam Suntory, told Fortune. “Dedication to craftsmanship – whether in the spirits world or production of shoes.”
Holiday gift sets are a well-established ploy by liquor makers to sell more of their beverages. And it is important to stand out in the final three months of the year when an estimated 40% of the nearly $70 billion in retail sales occur.
Basil Hayden’s is coming into the holiday season from a position of strength. Sales soared 71% in 2014 from the prior year according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI, building on strong, double digits gains in recent years as more Americans favor brown spirits like Basil Hayden’s and drink less vodka and beer. Basil Hayden’s sales are even strong relative to other whiskey brands. Premium priced bourbons and Tennessee whiskeys posted a sales increase of 19% in 2014, according to industry advocate the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Basil far outpaced that growth.
That brings us back to the partnership. The real unanswered question is: why pair bourbon with shoes?
Nelson explains some of the rationale. He says it goes back to the history of the brands. Both are crafted in the U.S. (the bourbon is made in Kentucky, the shoes are built in Maine). And he claims to a certain group of consumers there is a willingness to pay a premium for unique consumer goods with a strong heritage story to share.
“You get a pair of your drinking shoes on that say something about yourself and you have a bottle of well-crafted bourbon that is going to say something about your interest in spirits as well,” Nelson said.