Why The Macallan and artist Sir Peter Blake’s 1967 whisky collaboration recalls The Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s album cover
- Godfather of pop art has created 13 collages for labels of the brand’s 54-year-old limited-edition single-malt Scotch whisky collection
- Hong Kong’s Anecdote of Ages interactive experience shows how distillery’s history inspired work of British godfather of pop art
A well-crafted story can evoke nostalgia, create connections and trigger emotions, which allow us to connect with the past and carve a positive step into the future. Storytelling through art can also create a glimpse into the journey that has helped to craft a legacy.
Britain’s renowned godfather of pop art, Sir Peter Blake – best known for his design work on the iconic collage cover for The Beatles’ 1967 album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – has collaborated with the renowned single-malt Scotch whisky brand, The Macallan, to create collage-style labels for 13 limited-edition bottles of whisky, which reveal stories from its rich history that have helped to cement its reputation.
“An anecdote tells a unique or insightful story, which as you can imagine, The Macallan has plenty of from its near-200-year history,” says Patricia Byott, brand ambassador of The Macallan in Hong Kong and Macau.
Blake, 88, designed colourful, bespoke labels for the bottles of 54-year-old single-malt whisky featured in the Anecdotes of Ages Collection. The fact the whisky dates from 1967 is deliberate – it’s the year Blake’s collage-style pop art for the cover of The Beatles’ album captured the attention of people worldwide.
A special immersive experience to commemorate the new whisky collection, Anecdotes of Ages – including a replica of the pop artist’s studio, display of his artwork for the project, stunning barley field installation, which recalls those found on the distillery’s Scottish estate, and the Giant and the Fish, one of the 13 bottles of whisky featuring Blake’s original collage art – is being anchored at K11 MUSEA, in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, until June 23.
Byott says the labels Blake created for the collection are full of colour, character and complexity – just like the aroma, palate and after notes of the fine whisky in the bottles.
The label for the Giant and the Fish whisky bottle, for example, features a collage of pictures which include Roderick Kemp, the brand’s inspirational owner from 1892 to 1909, a fish and the River Spey. As a youngster, he often fished in this watercourse that runs beside the Speyside distillery in the village of Craigellachie, in Moray, northeast Scotland.
Byott says: “My favourite is the Giant and the Fish – not only because that is the bottle allocated to Hong Kong, but because the story itself centres around Roderick Kemp and really highlights the history of the community and the natural landscape of The Macallan.
“His impact on the brand cannot be overstated. It’s thanks to him that we mature our whisky in European sherry oak casks, which The Macallan is known for.
“Kemp is a fascinating individual in The Macallan’s history, who made iconic and unwavering decisions that have stood the test of time and contributed to the brand that we know today.”
This year’s collaboration is the latest between Blake and The Macallan, which was founded in 1824.
“Sir Peter is an iconic and timeless British pop artist,” Byott says. “We have collaborated with him for over three decades on numerous projects creating that synergy between whisky, art and storytelling.
“One of the first projects we did with him was for our Fine and Rare series, one of the most collectible, most sought-after series from The Macallan.
“He created 12 individual labels for our 1926 Fine and Rare – one bottle of which sold at auction last year for £1.5 million (US$2.1 million). To this day, it’s the most expensive whisky in the world. So there is a very long partnership between us.”
The immersive shopping experience will appeal to whisky enthusiasts and art lovers who are curious about Blake’s creative process. They can enter the replica of his studio and walk through an evocative “Scottish barley field” – created through the use of thousands of tiny lights inside a mirrored room.
Visitors can also enjoy an interactive history of The Macallan through the use of augmented reality – technology that superimposes computer-generated, composite images on a person’s view of the real world – and QR codes, which can be scanned by mobile phones, offering detailed information about the experience.
“The role of technology in this experience is essential to the whole consumer journey as it allows us to immerse the customer in the overall ambience and delve into the artistic mind of Sir Peter Blake and The Macallan estate,” Byott says.
“So storytelling is crucial and – rather than filling the room with corresponding works – we wanted the guests to go on a path of their own discovery, just like Sir Peter Blake did, and The Macallan did, in creating these iconic bottles.
“The experience brings to life the inspiration of Anecdotes of Ages and the storytelling concepts of our history, our community and the natural landscape that surrounds the distillery.
“We have a landscape of 495 acres [in Speyside] and it is a very spiritual place. We call it our home and this is definitely going to play through the shopping journey.”
The Macallan Anecdotes of Ages experience runs until June 23 at Unit 105, Level 1, K11 MUSEA, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; open 11am – 9pm daily.