The Whisky beloved by Bou Ging-Wan?
When we wine lovers talk about wine labels, the first thought in our mind must be Château Mouton Rothschild, whose label is retrieved and designed every year by top artists in the world. In fact, there are many artistic whisky labels. For example, Samaroli from Italy has an awesome label with poetic description. It is seductive enough to provoke our interests by merely its fantastic appearance.
Label is the reason of appreciation
The Whisky Show in London launches a special edition of whisky revolving the theme of that year. This year the Show is themed “Art of Whisky” and called for people globally to submit their designs which may finally be printed on the Springbank Single Cask 1992. The winner will be prized two admission tickets for the wine show and the Affordable Art Fair, as well as a bottle of the special edition with whose label was designed by the winner himself! I think this was a great marketing approach and should be referenced by Hong Kong whisky fair curators.
Nowadays people value label very much but it was rarely a talking point in the past until the launch of the Japanese “Hanyu Playing Card Series”, which covered a range of 54 distinct bottles of whisky made of the closed distillery Hanyu, with various vintages and styles, each corresponds to one of the 54 play cards in a poker respectively. The series is in extremely limited production, in which only a hundred bottles are released for the rarest range. The possibility to own a full collection of the series is comparable to look for a full collection of seven dragon balls! Another rare whisky Karuizawa has distinct label for each range such as the highly sought-after Sumo series. The trend of exclusive labelling is surging in recent years, especially for the independent bottlers.
Label with Pretty Women
Another adorable label is the “Artist Whisky” series which is a co-work of La Maison du Whisky from France and the Scottish bottler Signatory Vintage. The exquisite series was launched four years ago, in which the latest one is ARTIST # 6, which includes: Caol Ila 5 years, Auchentoshan 10 years, Mortlach, 15 years, Glen Keith 20 years, Highland Park 25 years and Bunnahabhain 35 years. The eye-catching label was designed by French street artist Koralie. According to the merchant, they are dedicated in employing young artist to encourage innovation. And from viewpoint of investment, it’s a good deal to invest in new artists with great potential. Among the series, the most stunning one should be Artist # 1, which was designed by Singaporean artist Warren Khong. The labels featured five beautiful women, one on each bottle. What is the reluctance against your desire to own this full collection?
The unbeatable Wind and Cloud
Talking about the local culture, it is definitely the stage of the “Fung Wan” (Wind and Cloud) series collaborated by the Whisky Agency and Ma Wing-shing, the author of the manga. The second edition consisted of Scottish Blair Athol 25years was named “Thanksgiving limited edition", which implies this is a reward of the popular 1st edition - Ben Nevis and Dailuaine and call for .
Blair Athol is located in the town of Pitlochry in Perthshire, which is one of the most beautiful attractions in Europe. The distillery was founded in 1998 by John Stewart and Robert Robertson and was named Aldour initially. It has operated for just a short period of time. In 1852, Robert Robinson re-opened it and officially named it as Blair Athol. The ownership was transferred several times and finally turns to the hand of Bell's, which was once its client. Bell’s was later acquired by Diageo and Blair Athol therefore become one of the main components for Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Blair Athol is also bottled officially but in limited quantity. But now a 27-year-old version is launched coupled with the admirable and labels and gift boxes designed by Ma Wing-Shing. I believe there would be a huge number of fans, mainly post-70s or 80s, who would hand over their credit card without hesitation.
談酒標設計，如果是喜愛葡萄酒的朋友，必先想起年年請來神級藝術家合作的 Château Mouton Rothschild，其實不少威士忌的酒標，也花盡心思，堪值細賞，例如意大利裝瓶商 Samaroli 的酒標別出心裁，酒廠介紹文字滿有詩意想像，未開瓶，已讓人充滿期待。
今年，倫敦舉辦的 Whisky Show 2017，每年推出酒展酒款，而今年因主題是「威士忌的藝術」（Art of Whisky），大會公開邀請全球人士為以1992年雲頂單桶（Springbank Single Cask）酒展酒款設計酒標。獎品分別獲兩張酒展及 Affordable Art Fair 門票，而最吸引的是比賽勝出者可獲一瓶貼上自己親手設計酒標的酒展特別版，香港的威士忌酒展不妨參考此造法。
另一值得細賞的酒標該是由法國酒商 La Maison du Whisky與蘇格蘭裝瓶商 Signatory Vintage 合作推出的藝術家威士忌系列（Artists Whisky）。該系列在四年前推出，所選酒款皆屬精品，現在已推出至 ARTIST#6，當中包括：卡爾里拉（Caol Ila） 5 年、歐肯特軒（Auchentoshan） 10 年、慕赫（Mortlach） 15 年、格蘭凱茲（Glen Keith） 20 年， 高原騎士（Highland Park） 25 年及布納哈本（Bunnahabhain） 35 年，再配上現居紐約的法國街頭藝術家 Koralie 設計的酒標，只看包裝已賞心悅目。根據酒商所講，他們起用新冒起的藝術家，志在鼓勵藝術創作。而從投資角度，如果酒莊沒有看錯人，結合上藝術家的作品升值，酒釀的升值潛力更高。不過在其系列中，最有型有款的該是由新加坡藝術家 Warren Khong 設計酒標的 Artist#1，常說有酒又如何能沒有女伴？烈女五位，任擇其一，可以，一次過五美相伴，又何妨？
如果要說跟香港本文化有關，而又絕對讓人愛不釋手的，鐵定是 The Whisky Agency 與陪伴我們成長的馬榮成合作的「風雲系列」，現在已推出至第二版，以蘇格蘭布萊爾阿蘇（Blair Athol） 25 年歲的酒液裝瓶，系列名起得好，叫做「風雲—— 感恩回饋限定版」，言下之意，即是以班尼富（Ben Nevis）及大雲（Dailuaine）裝瓶的第一版很好賣、很感恩，現在推出以布萊爾阿蘇裝瓶限定第二版，要買快手了。
布萊爾阿蘇位於珀斯郡（Perthshire）的皮特洛赫斯鎮（Pitlochry），該地被譽為歐洲最美景點之一。蒸餾廠由約翰史都華（John Stewart）及羅拔羅賓遜（Robert Robertson） 合作於 1798 年成立，當時蒸餾廠的名字是奧爾多（Aldour），惜生意不順，沒多久便關廠。於 1852 年，經羅拔羅賓遜擴建重開，正式定名並沿用至今。該廠輾轉易手，最後落在其主要客戶貝爾調和威士忌廠之手，而貝爾其後又遭帝亞吉歐（Diageo）收購，故布萊爾阿蘇也轉到帝亞吉歐旗下，並成為約翰走路藍牌的重要骨幹基酒。雖然布萊爾阿蘇也有自家裝瓶作，但由於一直供應調和型威士忌，所以市面難尋。現在推出這款酒齡達 27 年的作品，並找來馬榮成設計禮盒及酒標，相信一班 70、80 後，敵得過風神腿、排雲掌，也捱不過這絕世組合，只能將信用片拱手交出了。