The intersection of rare spirits and high level design is an interesting one; a land where unexpected collaboration can flourish. This can take on a range of forms, but this latest partnership between The Dalmore and V&A Dundee is truly a design-lover’s dream.
The new Luminary Series is rolling out over the next three years, bringing together rare limited-edition single malts in packaging designed by exceptional talents from the world of architectural design. Each edition will include two whiskies — The Rare and The Collectible — and for this inaugural 2022 Edition, we’re presented by the masterful works of two masters and their protégés: internationally acclaimed architect Kengo Kuma and Maurizio Mucciola (the lead architects on the V&A Dundee), in collaboration with Master Distiller Richard Paterson OBE, and Master Whisky Maker Gregg Glass.
When a brand like The Dalmore uses the term rare, this carries vastly more weight than your average marketing speak. This new whisky expression was created in a series of only three bottles, finessed by Master Distiller Richard Paterson for 48 years, and finished in Scottish Tay Oak and Japanese Oak casks. Its home at the end of the process is more sculptural art than bottle, as one would expect with a name like Kengo Kuma involved.
The use of natural materials is a longstanding signature of the works of Kuma, and the presentation sculpture that surrounds the Luminary No.1 – Rare – 2022 Edition is no exception. The build is relatively simple yet steeped in symbolic design decisions. The sculpture is made of 48 hand crafted diamonds of Scottish Oak, Japanese Oak, and polished metal to represent the 48 years of the whisky. The Scottish Oak in question is the same oak used in the aforementioned finishing casks, and is from a tree that had fallen along the banks of the River Tay, where both The Dalmore and V&A Dundee sit.
When it comes to the more accessible half of the 2022 Luminary offering, things are pared back a touch, though without compromising the vision at hand. Master Whisky Maker Gregg Glass developed an innovative 15 Year Old Single Malt that spotlights his passion for wood and flavour, which is this Collectible Edition held in a contemporary case designed by Kuma-san’s protégé Maurizio Mucciola. For this expression, Glass finished the whisky in Italian Amarone Red Wine casks and bespoke ‘Kintsugi’ Casks, which were crafted specifically for this Limited Edition and made from Scottish Tay Oak — once again the aforementioned tree from adjacent the distillery.
The packaging of The Collectible is justifiably less extravagant than Kuma’s wood and steel creation, though the case firmly echoes the messaging and feel of its Rare counterpart. Mucciola skilfully pays homage to his mentor’s design vocabulary, using the same animated geometric particles scattered across the case. Sculptural forms become graphic print, and the warmth of natural wood is translated into the soft earth tones of the case and packaging.
For seekers of The Rare, your journey will not be an easy one. Of the three bottles in question, one is currently being auctioned off by Sotheby’s London until November 16th, with a current bid of 90,000 GBP. Those interested in its more approachable sibling — the Collectible — will have a slightly easier time, as the 15-year counterpart will make it to the Canadian market. BC Liquor has the exclusive distribution rights for the Americas for this edition, which will carry a retail price of $525 CAD.