Auction News: Whisky and the colour green are intermingled — sometimes literally

Auction News: Whisky and the colour green are intermingled — sometimes literally

Joe Wilson, head curator and spirits specialist at Whisky Auctioneer muses on how the colour green keeps cropping up in whisky branding — and, once or twice, in the liquid itself.

Auction News | 03 Feb 2023 | By Joe Wilson

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There is something about the colour green that has always seemed to capture the imagination of the whisky consumer. So much so in fact, that it has a long history of almost aggressively inserting aesthetic associations to itself in the mind of the drinker and cementing these into common parlance. In Ireland for example, the green daubs of paint used by Mitchell & Son to signify their 10-year-old casks gave birth to the famous Green Spot brand. While in Scotland the label of the original blended Scotch from Usher’s eventually saw it become Green Stripe, the proprietary tartan-adorned blend from Inver House became Green Plaid, and the blended malt expression from Johnnie Walker was eventually renamed Green Label.

The appeal of the colour and potentially the rationale for many instances of its use in the first place is that it is one of unrivalled positive connotations. Throughout the world, green means “go,” it means “healthy,” it means “sustainable.” The latter is something of enormous importance in the whisky industry today and the first fully organic Scottish distillery – Nc’nean – opened in 2017. The idea of sustainable whisky has deeper roots though, with the first modern organic single malt distilled at Springbank for a company called Dà Mhìle in 1992. Inspired, the distillery produced its own batch of organic barley spirit ten years later, and you can explore the first of the two bottlings it produced in our January 2023 auction. Naturally, it’s called Springbank Green.

The famous "Green Brackla".

Sustainability has rightly become such a key focus of the industry that it may be difficult to call a whisky “green” today without some explanation as to its credentials in that respect. With perhaps a single exception: what if the whisky itself is literally green? Believe it or not, a handful of these exist. The most visually striking is a 1990-vintage Glen Garioch from the German independent label, Liquid Sun, somehow extracted from an ex-bourbon hogshead after 21 years. The most significant, however, is a rare Royal Brackla bottled in 2002 by The Whisky Exchange. Labelled as “Green Brackla,” this verdant single malt was distilled in 1975 and filled into a cask of which the previous contents have never been ascertained. What is known is that this “olive oil green” liquid is exceptional, sought-after by many and regarded by Serge Valentin – the paragon of whisky reviewers – as his favourite experience of single malt from the distillery in Nairn. Limited to just 204 bottles, we are delighted to offer one of these fantastic oddities in our January sale.

From the naturally chlorophyll-tinted Chartreuse Verte to the dye-infused kegs of beer produced for St. Patrick’s day in the US, the drinks industry is no stranger to a green liquid. That single malt whisky is able to achieve this not only through traditional means, but with the potential for laudable results is truly surprising though. Admittedly chance occurrences, very few would likely have gambled, however, on physically green whiskies being as welcome 21st-century additions to the industry as their symbolically green organic counterparts.

Whisky Auctioneer's January auction runs until Monday 6th February.

About Whisky Auctioneer

Whisky Auctioneer is one of the global market leaders and trusted authorities on the buying and selling of whisky and spirits at auction. Founded in 2013 and located in Perth, Whisky Auctioneer utilises its expertise and knowledge combined with its auction platform, to increase interest and passion in the whisky and spirits community.

Whisky Auctioneer endeavours to make the market more accessible for buyers and sellers of any background and geography. Its monthly global auctions feature some of the most comprehensive selections of old, rare and collectible whiskies and spirits available online.

Whisky Auctioneer became the first online auction house to sell a million-pound bottle and outperformed the nearest traditional auction house by 200 per cent in value from spirits sales in 2020, showcasing the move that whisky collectors, investors and drinkers have already made online and firmly establishing their leading position within the modern secondary whisky market.

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