Last year I wrote an article about “Shaping Glass for Vodka” and before that “Extravagance in Glass Bottles”. This year I like to make it a special whisky year, as apparently the Scottish whisky distilleries had something to celebrate and several of them released a beautifully shaped bottle for their very special vintage malt. Were the vodka bottles mentioned in my article for the ordinary consumer ready and willing to pay a bit more for an exclusive shaped bottle, the limited editions of the whisky distilleries certainly are not for the ordinary consumer.
They are limited editions, and unique, hand-crafted collectors items. Nevertheless we are coming into Christmas time and many of us are looking around for a nice present for friends or relatives. Well, here they are ranging from some USD 500 to USD 25,000. Make your choice, if you get the chance that is, before Asia is buying all the exclusive stock.
In China, with its remarkable economic growth over recent years, an increasing number of people are able to buy premium Western brands. For example, sales of expensive Scotch whisky brands are booming owing to the country’s growing middle class. Drinking whisky in China is seen as a sign of sophistication and sales have rocketed from USD 2 million in 2001 to USD 1.1 billion in 2006. In 2008, South Korea, Singapore and China accounted for around 20 percent of the now USD 5 billion a year industry, according to figures released by the Scotch Whisky Association.
Inevitably the sales boom is providing grounds for more extensive counterfeiting, however not with the ones shown below.
Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Limited Edition
Following the success of Chivas Regal’s award-winning Chivas 12 Year Old Magnum designed by Christian Lacroix last year, Christian Lacroix has brought haute couture to Scotch whisky with the bejewelled Chivas 18 Year Old bottle, presented in a mirrored treasure box.
Dressed in a rich tapestry with embroidered jacquard, in true Lacroix style, Chivas 18 Year Old gives credit to the multi-layered richness and craftsmanship of the whisky inside. The intricate and finely detailed jacquard fabric, interwoven with metallic threads and diamante stones, created by one of the designer’s regular suppliers, is hand applied to the capsule, bottle and box.
The bottle features the metallic decoration, developed for the Chivas 12 Year Old Magnum, but this time the technology has been challenged even further in order to extend it over the curved shoulders of the bottle. These decorative effects, applied in the colour of the whisky onto a premium silver surface, use precision laser technology to deposit thin metal-film features onto the glass substrate.
Chivas Regal 18 Year Old by Christian Lacroix is released as a limited edition with only 3,000 bottles available internationally with a price of USD 495.00.
Highland Park 50 year old
Abundantly rich in heritage, the Orkney Islands have been inhabited for over 5,500 years. It is since 1798 home to the Highland Park Distillery. Highland Park 50 Year Old is the distillery’s oldest and most prestigious release. The bottle is stunning, with sterling silver “squeezing” the glass, making it bulge ever so slightly. The hand-crafted ornate bottle, holding the oldest ever island single malt, is designed by Scottish Jewellery designer, Maeve Gillies, who was inspired by the elemental forces of Orkney. Her design for Highland Park 50 Year Old celebrates Orkney; in particular the influence of the sea, wild weather and the passage of time.
Perhaps the loveliest little secret hidden within this bottle is that “In recognition of the famous St Magnus Cathedral and its medieval beauty, the front of each bottle features a single piece of circular Orkney sandstone into which is hand-carved the Highland Park amulet. Inside the bottle, behind this sandstone, lies a Sterling silver replica of the St Magnus rose window which is revealed over time as the whisky is enjoyed.”
The bottle sits in a hand-carved Scottish oak box. The limited edition is 275 bottles and available at Harrods.
Ian Macleod Distillers
Ian Macleod Distillers has released two rare, limited edition 40 year old single malts – one from its Glengoyne Distillery and the other from its Springbank Distillery. Both are presented in suitably extravagant packs.
Glengoyne 40 Years Old Single Malt
For the first time in its 175 year history, Glengoyne Distillery released its oldest, most valuable and finest Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky: the Glengoyne 40 Years Old and bottled it in a hand-blown crystal decanter with gold engraving by Glencairn Crystal that makes a feature of the malt’s dark copper colour. The number of each bottle is engraved on the base, along with an etching of the distillery that reflects up through the malt.
The 11 times lacquered piano-finished solid oak wood presentation box, complete with gold plates on the front and hand-stitched cream leather interior, reinforces the quality and showcases the rich, natural colour of the malt. An accompanying cream leather and gold foil traditionally bound book, personally signed by distillery manager, Robbie Hughes, provides tasting notes and detailed background on Glengoyne’s history as an independent distillery since 1833.
Opportunities like this don’t come along every day, as just 250 Glencairn Crystal Decanters were available. Price some USD 6,000.
Springbank 40 Years Old Single Malt
Distilled in 1968 at the Springbank Distillery, only 398 bottles of this exceptional natural strength, natural colour and unchill-filtered whisky are available. It is the last, oldest and the best Springbank cask available from the current Chieftain’s collection.
The hand-crafted presentation of the Chieftain’s Springbank 40 Years Old reflects the quality and rarity of this single malt. Sleek and masculine, the bottle rests in a silver leather lined, piano finished, solid oak box which has been stained black and lacquered 11 times, to enhance the natural wood grain. Two silver plaques on the front of the box display all the individual bottle details, as does the certificate of authenticity scroll, personally signed by Antony McCallum-Caron, Chieftain’s Rare Malt Manager. A neck tag, hung on a silver chain has detailed tasting notes.
The limited edition of 398 bottles is available for USD 1,600.
Mortlach 70-year-old single malt
Scottish whisky merchant Gordon & MacPhail released the world’s oldest bottled single malt whisky, the Mortlach 70-year-old, at a ceremony in Edinburgh. Founded in 1895, Gordon & MacPhail is widely recognised as the custodian of some of the oldest and rarest single malt whiskies. The whisky has aged since 15 October 1938 in an ex-bodega sherry hogshead cask made from Spanish oak.
Its packaging has been carefully selected and comprises a stunning teardrop-shaped hand-blown crystal decanter sealed with a Prestige cork stopper from Amorim’s Top Series range.
The stopper features a stylish metallic cap and silver finish carefully designed to match the decanter’s shape and its striking silver base. The packaging is completed with a handmade Brazilian Rosewood box.
Distributed under Gordon & MacPhail’s ‘Generations’ brand, only 54 standard size 700ml decanters with a recommended price of USD 16,000 each and 162 smaller decanters (200ml) priced at USD 4,000 have been released.
There is more to come. We still have the Royal Salute 62 Gun Salute from the Chivas Brothers, the Bowmore 40 Years Old and the Bowmore 1981 from the oldest distillery of Islay, William Grant & Sons’ Glenfiddich 50 Year Old Single Malt and at last the ‘crême de la crême’ the 64 years old Macallan in Lalique, marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of René Lalique, one of the world’s foremost crystal artisans.
Worthwhile to have a look at part 2 of this article. Coming up tomorrow.