We weren’t surprised to discover that premium Scottish whisky brand Glenmorangie treats the design and presentation of its classic single malt – from bottle, to glassware, to accessories – with as much care as it does the whisky-distilling process itself.
The fact is that it is these aesthetic niceties, the stuff that surrounds Glenmorangie during its slow, deliberate, creative procedure – the stills and vessels that contain it, the artisan casks in which it matures – that are key to its development from the beginning.
Consider how Glenmorangie sources the wood for its all-important casks. With around 60 per cent of a single malt’s flavour coming from the casks, the quality of wood used to construct them is crucial. A journey to Missouri’s Ozark Mountains finds the Tain-based team hand-choosing slow-growth oak trees with a highly porous nature. The selected wood is then given a two-year period of air-seasoning, heavy toasting and light charring to maximise its ageing potential. It is then fashioned into bespoke casks, which are leased to bourbon producers for up to four years for seasoning. Only then can each be called a Glenmorangie ‘designer cask’, and even then it is only used twice. This must be what Glenmorangie means when it says that its premium product is ‘unnecessarily well made’.
But Glenmorangie’s traditional techniques do not render it a backward-looking outfit. On a mission to undo malt whisky’s reputation as a loner’s tipple quaffed in dimly lit rooms full of musty books and hanging pheasants, the Scottish company has made capital out of its growing profile in the Far East as a sociable lubricant, consumed – table service style with bottles to the fore – in specially designed receptacles.
Last year, to further emphasise its quest for modernity, Glenmorangie commissioned London-based designer Philip Michael Wolfson to create a functional sculpture – a piece of conceptual poetry, if you like – called SoundForm FLUID. Deriving its form from the graph of the sound wave generated when whisky is poured into a crystal glass, it enhanced the already sensual whisky-drinking experience.
Impressed by its attention to detail and with the notion of equipping the modern,
single malt-imbibing gentleman with a full complement of bespoke concepts, Wallpaper* embarked on an ambitious collaboration with the distiller, commissioning four designers – Kilian Schindler from Kkaarrlls, Adrien De Melo, Jarrod Lim and Hanne Enemark – to create one-off, whisky-drinking accessories. Alongside a carafe and tumbler, a lamp and a chair is a bottle ‘glorifier’. Never heard of one before? Well, thanks to Glenmorangie, you have now.