In partnership with The Dalmore
For Kengo Kuma, whose extraordinary buildings explore and enrich the connection between architecture and the land, understanding location is integral in making each project exceptional. Now, Kuma and his protégé Maurizio Mucciola of London-based PiM.studio Architects have turned their shared creative ethos to a limited-edition series of The Dalmore single malts and a quest to discover a point of convergence between the complex skills of architectural design and whisky-making.
The Dalmore’s Luminary Series of single malts, curated in partnership with the V&A Dundee – Scotland’s design museum, itself designed by Kuma – is a three-year project that matches the talents of whisky-making artisans with creative luminaries. Beginning in 2022, the series involves the release of three editions over three years, each containing two Luminary whiskies – The Rare and The Collectible – presented in special showcases.
Working with The Dalmore’s master distiller Richard Paterson and master maker Gregg Glass respectively, Kuma and Mucciola co-conceived single malts – 48-year-old and 15-year-old – that embody the collaborators’ pursuit of excellence, respect for natural materials and deep regard for the creative process.
The Luminary No.1 – The Rare – 2022 Edition was co-conceived by Kuma and Paterson and only three bottles have been created. The rare whisky, hand-nurtured for 48 years and finished in casks of Scottish Tay oak and of Japanese oak air dried at the distillery, is housed in a unique sculpture designed by Kuma, comprising 48 diamond-shaped panels and handcrafted in the same woods as the casks (the Tay oak was salvaged from a tree that had fallen beside the eponymous river) and glinting steel.
An importance placed on the use of natural materials, especially wood, is Kuma’s signature and is reflected in his design of V&A Dundee’s interior. At The Dalmore, the location’s fundamental elements of soil and timber play an intrinsic role in the whisky-making process and in giving the whisky its distinctive flavour. Kuma established a poetic connection between design and whisky-making, highlighting mutually utilised materials, taking inspiration from natural surroundings, and honouring a friendship with the V&A Dundee that brought together the project.
Kuma’s sculpture for The Luminary No.1 The Rare highlights the architect’s signature gentle integration and intimate understanding of natural materials and negative space, the placing of metal alongside wood a nod to ‘kintsugi’, an ancient Japanese art where broken pottery is repaired with gold, to incredible results. The wood, metal and reflected light achieve balance and harmony, drawing parallels with the art of the master distillers that create perfectly harmonious whisky flavours.
Says Kuma, ‘My relationship with The Dalmore, and with Scotland, is one born from a love of natural materials and the unfolding of stories over a lifetime. In my work with Richard Paterson and The Dalmore, I see the same respect for the environment, and the same careful attention to the way great design must continue to evolve over time. The design echoes this sensibility, inviting all who see it to consider the elements, seen and unseen, that have gone into its conception.’
The Luminary No.1 – The Collectible – 2022 Edition is a collaboration between Glass and Mucciola that echoes its Rare partner in design. Glass created an innovative 15-year-old single malt that spotlights his passion for wood and flavour. It begins its journey in American white oak and finishes it in hand-selected Italian Amarone red wine casks and bespoke ‘kintsugi’ casks made from that upcycled Scottish Tay oak.
The Collectible is held in a contemporary case designed by Mucciola that sees motifs from Kuma’s sculpture reimagined and transformed into a graphic pattern applied to its packaging. Soft earth tones were chosen to recall the strong connections between nature, the location, and the whisky.
The first of the two sculptures created to display The Luminary No.1 – The Rare edition was sold at Sotheby’s London with £50,000 of the proceeds donated to the V&A Dundee, while the second will be held at the Dalmore distillery’s Highland home. The original designer’s proof of the sculpture is on public display at the V&A Dundee. Approximately 15,000 bottles of The Luminary No. 1 – The Collectible edition will be made available at an RSP of £250, for purchase from luxury retailers worldwide.
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