The Distillers’ Art

Limited-edition art and whisky comes together in a unique collaboration

A unique collaboration which brings together limited-edition art and limited-edition cask whisky bottlings has been launched by drinks industry veterans and a renowned Scottish artist.

The Spirit of Art will initially launch three cask bottlings with an artwork created exclusively for that cask.  A limited edition print of the artwork will be sold with each bottle and features on both the label and the carton.

The business brings together the roles of whisky curator – held by Keeper of the Quaich George Thomson, who over a 40-year career in the drinks industry held senior positions in Diageo, Grants and Forth Wines – and commissioning artist Nichol Wheatley.  Nichol recreated the story of Tam O’Shanter across 10 canvases in a two-year labour of love commissioned by Oran Mor owner Colin Beattie which are displayed in the bar.  He also worked for, and with, famous artist and author the late Alasdair Gray over a period of 14 years, including helping to paint Alasdair’s renowned celestial ceiling mural in Oran Mor’s auditorium.   George will seek out the whiskies and Nichol will commission artists to create the embodiment of the whisky on canvas.

The initial launches include:

  • 223 bottles of 13-year old cask strength (55.4% ABV) single malt whisky from Caol Ila distillery on Islay. Oily and salty on the palate with a gentle smokiness rounded by sweet fruit, Caol Ila has a long rich burst of peppery peat smoke on the finish.  The bottles will retail at £210 each.
    Artwork was commissioned from artist and musician Brian McFie.  Brian studied at Glasgow School of Art under the tutelage of Barbara Rae and Jack Knox.  He went onto become a professional guitar player performing with the likes of Marianne Faithfull and The Bluebells before returning full-time to painting.  His painting commissioned to accompany the bottling is of the shoreline at Caol Ila.
  • 228 bottles of 10-year old cask strength (59.2% ABV) Speyside single malt whisky, Linkwood, retailing at £180 each. The palate delivers sweet honey backed up with a spicy grassy flavour with a long dry fruity finish. Nichol Wheatley’s painting of ‘On the way to Linkwood’ showing the bend of the river between Aberlour and Craigellachie.
  • 319 bottles of 10-year old cask strength (55.5% ABV) Speyside single malt whisky, Benrinnes, retailing at £175 each. The whisky taste opens with toffee and a sweet tangerine with a hint of peat and a light smokiness with sugar and spice on the finish.

Artist Nichol Wheatley’s painting of ‘Ben Rinnes Hill’ shows the distillery in the foreground.

George Thomson, explains:

“It is neither the artist nor the whisky that is the star of our show – it is the combination of the genius in cask and on canvas that creates the magic behind the Spirit of Art.  This unique collaboration provides a great opportunity for whisky lovers to add to their collection or provides a unique gifting opportunity.

These three launches are the first in a collaboration with whisky producers and artists that we will bring to the market in this exciting new venture.”

Nichol Wheatley, adds:

“Working with the art community to create and commission works of art for a drink I love was too good an opportunity to pass up.  The making of whisky is a true art in itself and the distilleries and their geographies provide a perfect backdrop for the canvas.”

Joining George and Nicol in the business are Ewen Cameron, who has worked in the drinks industry for over 40 years with the likes of S&N and Forth Wines, and Euan Thomson who has been in sales roles within a number of drinks organisations.

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