Epic proportions

Epic proportions

Ian Buxton meets the Brazilian collector with a record breaking collection.

People | 28 Nov 2008 | Issue 76 | By Ian Buxton

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Where would you find William MacFarlane’s Number One Harbour Master whisky? Or, for that matter, Mason & Summers Auld Shepp?Give up? Well, very soon they’ll be on view in Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky Experience, where the world’s largest collection of whiskies has now found a new home, brought 6,500 miles from Sao Paulo back to Scotland by leading distiller, Diageo.Featuring a magnificent 3,391 bottles, the record-breaking collection was built up over 35 years by Brazilian whisky enthusiast, Claive Vidiz, who has scoured the world for whiskies to create the remarkable collection. The book of Guinness World Records has confirmed the collection as the world’s largest.As part of a £2 million investment at the fivestar tourist attraction on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, a specially designed vault is being created at the Scotch Whisky Experience to display the Diageo Claive Vidiz Scotch Whisky Collection.While the details of the terms of its sale to Diageo will remain under wraps, the unique collection is described by whisky experts as “invaluable” and ranges from the most popular whiskies to some of the rarest.Negotiations to acquire the collection began three years ago during the Brazilian Grand Prix, when Diageo Chairman Lord Blyth visited the collection and was astounded by what he saw. Naturally the collection includes many bottles from Diageo’s competitors but, in a far-sighted act, these will get equal billing in the display.The vault will also feature private dining facilities for a party of 10 very privileged guests. The last tour of the day will get to linger and the Whisky Experience guides will be specially briefed on the collection’s highlights.“To split up a collection to which I have devoted more than 35 years of my life would have broken my heart so I am truly thrilled Diageo has purchased it in its entirety. It is now in the hands of a company which is at the heart of the Scotch industry and I am certain they will cherish and develop the collection,” said Mr Vidiz.“It is also wonderful to see it safely back in Scotland. We have an expression in Brazil – ‘the good son returns home’ – and in my view the collection is back with its family now,” he added.Among the many rare bottles is a Strathmill single malt produced to celebrate the Speyside distillery’s 100th anniversary.One of only 100 bottles ever produced, this limited edition centenary malt was offered to a very select few – including various heads of state and, fortunately for the collection, Claive Vidiz.Apersonal favourite of Mr Vidiz is Dimple Pinch, one of the first special editions of a Scotch Whisky ever produced. Bought in 1969 for US $1000, it was the most expensive limited edition bottle of Scotch Whisky on the market at the time.Shipping the fragile cargo across the Atlantic took months of preparation, and each bottle was individually packaged by fine art specialists.“We are delighted to have worked with Claive to bring this wonderful collection safely back to Scotland and to play a part in preserving its legacy and historic significance,” said Bryan Donaghey, managing director of Diageo Scotland.“We are loaning the collection to the Scotch Whisky Experience where annually 200,000 visitors will be able to view the collection in its atmospheric vault.” Having been bitten by the collecting bug, Mr Vidiz hasn’t quite given up all his treasures.Around 500 bottles will stay in his home, including a very precious Johnnie Walker Blue Label Grand Prix edition, signed by Juan Pablo Montoya, winner of the 2005 Brazilian F1 event.What, I asked him, did he look for in a collectable bottle?“It must fit my bank account, be special and make me happy,” he answered.I have a feeling the collection will be making visitors to the Scotch Whisky Experience happy for years to come.
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