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Issue 8 - Drawing in the drinks

Whisky Magazine Issue 8
February 2000


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Drawing in the drinks

Art and commerce can be a potent cocktail and one of which distillers are becoming increasingly aware . Annie Davies looks at the success of designer bottles and labels

Atendril of smoke, a suggestion of peat, the delicate whisper of vanilla, or even, as in one celebrated case, a lick of Liquorice Allsort: blending whisky, composing the seemingly limitless number of tastes and fragrances into a magnificent drink, is akin to creating a masterpiece.

As Seagram's founder Samuel Bronfmann declared, “Distilling is a science and belnding is an art.” And now it seems, some whisky companies are looking to put art on the outside of their bottles as well as inside, by commissioning contemporary artists to design labels or in some cases redesigning the bottles themselves. At a time when the whisky companies are keen to court a younger, less traditional market, it is seen as a way to move away from the old kilt and cut glass image. It has certainly worked for The Macallan. Although the company proudly describes itself as a traditionalist distiller, its approach to advertising and label design is definitely 21st century.

And it has a very strict philosphy and criteria when selecting their artists. “Their (the artists') approach to their art mirrors The Macallan's belief that you should have the confidence to do what you believe is right in your chosen pursuit of excellence, regardless of what others are doing around you,” says David Cox, Macallan's global marketing controller. Except for when it came to selecting the artist, Peter Blake. He happened to be a friend of the previous chairman of The Macallan, the Hollywood script writer, Allan Schi...

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