One of Scotland’s most famous blended whiskies has found a new audience abroad  - thanks to a bizarre avalanche of TikTok videos, memes and comedy skits centering on a legendary football figure.

Sales and interest in Johnnie Walker Blue Label have skyrocketed in Latin America region after a clip of an interview with Argentina national coach Alfio ‘Coco’ Basile in 2011 resurfaced on the video-sharing app.

A former player and manager in both his native Argentina and Spain, Basile is known for being the only coach to have had Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi under his command thanks to his two spells as Argentina national team boss in 1991-1994 and 2006-2008. 

When asked in the interview for popular TV show Marca y Presión on sports channel TyC Sports what his favourite whisky is, he replies with: “The best in the world? Johnnie Walker Blue Label. I drink Johnnie Walker Black Label but when it’s a special occasion I drink Blue Label. It’s an elixir and the other one is a whisky. 

“You drink one and the other one you savour. Black Label is a strong drink for after 6pm. Blue Label is for any time of day. You can drink it in the morning and it will never give you heartburn or gastritis or anything. It’s an elixir.”

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Since a clip of the interview resurfaced on TikTok, characterised by Basile’s signature gravely tone and soundtracked by smooth jazz track ‘Quarto de Hotel’ by Hareton Salvanini, the video and subsequent follow ups of it have racked up over 245 million views on the video-sharing app.

Clips of the interview have also generated over 10 million views on Youtube, with Google Trends data also showing a monumental rise in search terms relating to the video such as ‘elixir’ and ‘blue label’.

Among those to have been swept up by the TikTok phenomenon has been Argentina international and World Cup Winner Nicolás Otamendi, who took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to mimic Basile.

The popularity of the video clip has spread beyond Argentina, with websites in countries such as Chile, Peru, Mexico, Colombia and even Spain all reporting on the TikTok trend. 

Chilean newspaper The Clinic reported it with the headline: “How much does Blue Label cost? The drink that was popularised by the comment of “Coco” Basile stating that it is the “best whisky in the world”.

Echoing The Clinic, Colombian website Pulzo reported: “How much does Johnnie Walker Blue Label cost?The viral whisky thanks to 'Coco' Basile. Recently, videos have gone viral on TikTok in which the former Argentine National Team coach assures that the liquor is the best in the world.”

The website also noted how the viral phenomenon was translating into increased sales of the whisky across Latin America.

Puzlo added: “With the description that Basile gave at the time, several people's mouths watered, since it is no small thing to say that this is the best whisky in the world, and that it can be classified as an elixir.

“Many will have been left curious and to satisfy their curiosity will have gone to supermarkets to see if they could buy the whisky. The truth is that it is not cheap and most probably, for the average citizen, they would have to have a whip-round.”

Know Your Meme, a website which researches and documents Internet memes and viral phenomena, commented on the TikTok trend, noting that “the popularity of the interview spawned an interest in the alcoholic beverage in Latin American countries, as videos of people opening the expensive bottle received millions of views on TikTok.

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“For instance, a video uploaded by Pablo CC on July 12, 2023, received over 3.2 million plays and 538,000 likes in two weeks.”

The rise in interest and sales of Johnnie Walker Blue Label in Argentina and Latin America as a result of the TikTok trend mirrors that of fellow Scotch whisky blend Buchanan’s, which has become one of the most consumed spirits in Mexico after being name-dropped with increasing frequency by narcocantantes - singers of controversial folk music drug ballads known in Mexico as narcocorridos.

Indeed, so popular has Buchanan’s become in Mexico that the whisky has even seeped its way into the realm of language in the form of the - controversial - cultural expression buchón, which denotes a lifestyle inspired by drug culture. 

Buchón has been extended to refer to buchones, to refer to men and women who wear luxury brands, listen to narcocorridos and who consume Buchanan’s at their parties and get-togethers.