Diageo is relaunching its premium Bell’s whisky, Bell’s Special Reserve, in a bid to encourage drinkers of blended Scotch to trade up.

The blended Scotch category is perceived as cheaper and more old-fashioned than the booming malt whisky category but Diageo is hoping the move will encourage consumers to re-appraise blended whisky. It believes that there is a £131m opportunity for incremental growth in the blended sector by encouraging consumers to buy more premium blends.

The whisky, made from a blend of malts including those from Blair Athol, Dufftown, Glenkinchie and Caol Ila, has been repackaged in a malt whisky-style bottle and been given a new “luxury” label. The brand’s Arthur Bell character, introduced on to standard Bell’s in September 2007, also now appears on the bottle bringing it in line with the rest of the portfolio and brand advertising.

“The newly redesigned Bell’s Special Reserve provides an accessible way to trade up to a more premium blend with a brand consumers trust,” said whisky brand director James Pennefather. 

Bottles of Bell’s Original will carry a 5cl bottle of Special Reserve to encourage trial and neck collars will also carry £1-off voucher and an information leaflet to educate consumers about the more premium blend.

Special Reserve will also benefit from some of the £2m spend earmarked for the Bell’s brand in the first half of this year.

The company also announced before Christmas that it had signed up to a £2m sponsorship deal with Film4 for its spirits brands to try and encourage consumers to drink spirits with mixers at home. Smirnoff vodka, Gordon’s gin and Morgan’s Spiced rum will all feature around the 7pm and 9pm films on the channel. The activity will run alongside the existing sponsorship of films on C4, E4 and More 4 by Diageo brands Baileys and Guinness, which began in June.

The company is also looking at running a DVD giveaway with bottles of spirits bought in some of the multiples this spring as part of the activity.