The blended bourbon-based mixed drink, which has added lime and ginger flavours, was developed to bring more men into RTDs by offering them an alternative to beer.
“We believe there is a real opportunity to boost the RTD category,” said Lavinia Leung, innovation manager for Diageo Great Britain.
“The combination of the masculine image and unique taste will give it credibility with existing male RTD consumers and new converts.”
Whisky-based RTDs have been trialled in the UK before. Black Jack, made with Jack Daniels and cola by rival drinks producer Bacardi Brown-Forman, was shelved in 2003 before reaching the off-trade. Most of the key RTD brands that remain in the off-trade are vodka-based, such as Diageo’s leading Smirnoff Ice brand and Beverage Brands’ WKD.
Leung said dark spirit RTDs are seen as more masculine and Diageo has already experienced this in the Australian market. Diageo developed brand recognition for Slate 20 through its launch into bars last August.
The off-trade launch will be supported by a £3.7m marketing campaign, including press ads.
The 4.5% abv Slate 20 comes in a four-pack (rsp: £5.29) and a 70cl bottle (rsp: £3.29). A 12-pack will also be available from May.