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whisky art

Scotch Whisky by John Lamond

Bad news for whisky drinkers! Whisky prices continue to escalate with the sale of bottle No. 1 of 12 of Bowmore 1957 (54 years old) for £100,000 (about $162,000) to an undisclosed U.S. buyer. This, the oldest-ever bottling of an Islay whisky, was sold from the distillery in the middle of last December. All the net proceeds will be split between five Scottish charities. Of the 12 bottles yielded by the cask, two are being kept for archive purposes by the distillers (between you and me, that will be a great party!).

The whisky is encased in a mouth-blown and hand-sculpted bottle created by Brodie Nairn and Nichola Burns, two of the world's foremost glass artists, who have designed a shape reminiscent of the waves that crash against the seawalls of the distillery's No. 1 Vaults in which the cask containing the spirit has rested, and developed, for the past 57 years. The glass is inlaid with shimmering flecks of platinum -- the same precious metal as the collar around the bottle's neck, which is hand-engraved with the bottle number and alcoholic strength. A platinum stopper tops the bottle off. Like the collar, this has been handcrafted by Hamilton & Inches of Edinburgh.

The bottle is partnered with a pair of glasses and a water pitcher, also hand-fashioned by Nairn and Burns. The whole set nestles softly in a presentation box created by acclaimed woodworker Peter Toaig, who used select pieces of Scottish oak.

The spirit was originally placed in a second-fill sherry butt (where it spent 43 years), and then in 2000 it was transferred to a second-fill bourbon barrel where it remained until it was bottled. The company tells me that the whisky is "magical"; that it has "a symphony of aromas and flavours never before experienced.

The full text of this article is available in the Spring 2013 issue of Scottish Life.

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