Confused whisky drinkers are being given a helping hand by Diageo, which has designed a Malt Whisky Map to demystify the category for retailers and consumers.

The map has been drawn up in consultation with whisky expert Dave Broom and consists of a simple grid with a scale of light to rich on one axis and delicate to smoky on the other. Malts are then plotted on the map in relation to these flavour characteristics.

The initiative comes on the back of research indicating consumers were put off buying malt whisky because they found it complex and intimidating. "The flavour map opens up the category to exploration and allows consumers to make more informed choices," said James Pennefather, whisky brand director. "It could revolutionise the way we all talk about single malts."

The company is keen that the map is used for all whiskies, not just Diageo brands, as this will help clarify the category even further and attract more consumers to the sector/aisles. It is available now to Diageo trade customers and will be rolled out to consumers from next week. Inserts in The Times Whisky Supplement in November, presence at the Whisky Live show and other PR activity will promote the map.

This year the spirits aisle has been the focus of several supplier initiatives aimed at demystifying the sector. Cross-promoting with mixers, cocktail making, security caps and tasting notes are all being tried.