Virgin’s Holiday Spirit

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Virgin's Holiday Spirit

Does it put you into the holiday spirit?

Yesterday evening I was invited by Virgin Holidays to the launch of – something. As usual with any member of the Virgin group, there was the suggestion that whatever was being announced was significant.

Down in the basement of a bar in London’s Duke Street, travel writers gathered. With a rum cocktail in hand I learnt the importance of the evening. It was to introduce a rum to the market, a rum called Holiday Spirit.

Except it was more than any old rum. This was an “attempt” – their word, not mine – to create a brew that tastes like a holiday. Virgin has created the first data-driven rum built on emotions garnered from 15 million social media comments.

Never a group to do things by halves, Virgin used the most intelligent super-computer in the world (no, not Richard Branson’s mum, Eve) – IBM’s Watson – to crunch those fifteen million holidaymaker postings. The emotions distilled (sorry about the pun!) by Watson were then integrated with thousands of rum flavour descriptions which resulted in the final recipe.

You might ask why rum and not gin or tequila, whisky or ginger wine?  The answer is that Virgin is known for flying to the Caribbean. Richard Branson has a holiday island there and the Caribbean is an important holiday destination. And what typifies the Caribbean more than rum?

And who better to espouse the delights of rum than Ian Burrell, a master rum blender and television personality, who promotes rum as well as creating rum based cocktails. It was he who oversaw the final recipe. He says, “The Virgin Holiday Spirit has a subtle vanilla flavour, medium sweetness, hints of coconut and is naturally caressed with cinnamon and allspice.”

If you want to sample this reminder of holidays past or the aroma of future holidays then you need to move quickly as only 800 bottles were produced. If you go into the company’s nine V-room stores the staff will whip you up a cocktail to try or you can buy a bottle of the golden nectar for £59. They went on sale today and when they’re all gone; that’s it. No more.

Then Vigin will have to come up with a new holiday promotion that will capture a lot of attention. And the only thing of which I am sure is that they will.

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