The Balvenie pride themselves as the only single malt that is still handcrafted in the traditional way. So it’s quite natural for them to find synergies with craftsmen all over the world, who similarly, puts in plenty of thought and detail to ensure that the final product turns out right.
In Singapore, the Dufftown-based distillery rounded up six local craftsmen for The Balvenie Connoisseurs of Craft programme, an initiative that promotes the art of craftsmanship. The craftsmen were also given a common space at The Refinery Workspace where they can collaborate, learn and inspire from one another.
Nearly a year has passed since the start of the programme. The Balvenie gathered these craftsman and got them to share about their experiences and showcase the products they have crafted for distillery.
Keith Poh is a shoemaker who learned his trade in Italy. For The Balvenie Connoisseurs of Craft initiative, he was commissioned to create a dress shoe for The Balvenie regional brand ambassador, Neil Strachan. The shoe is made using full grain Italian calf leather, with traditional hand welted construction with hidden hand sole stitching. The leather is hand dyed in deep burgundy and finished with a patina of three colours – red, brown and black.
Printmaker Joseph Chiang hand printed an accordion fold book that features a combination of linocut and silkscreen techniques. Each art work depicts a whisky fun fact. Steady hands and nerves were definitely needed, as the prints were done on a continuous piece of paper. One wrong move, and he would have to start over. The paper is 1.8m, the longest that Joseph has created to date.
Leather crafter Tan Boon Hwee created The Balvenie Whisky Doctor’s Bag. The bag comes with a compartment to fit a laptop and A4-sized documents. It can also fit a few whisky tasting bottles – the perfect cure for any ailment.
Carpenter Greg Swyny collaborated with industrial designer Melvin Ong to create The Balvenie Mobile bar. It allows bar staff to store their equipment and bottles inside when it is in its compact state, but forms a 2-metre long functional bar when fully deployed. This is made possible via a ‘wing’ door drawer design that pivots open to expand the size of the bar with sliding table panels, which creates a larger worktop space. The bevelled-edge counter top slides forward on custom made dovetail joint slider to create a split-level counter top, with designated areas for preparation and for serving drinks. The bar is mode of solid oak wood panelling and custom made brass fittings.
Jewellery Designer Daphne Tann created a trio of stoppers, each one made from a different metal – silver, copper and bronze. The design of each stopper is inspired by the tasting notes of each expression of The Balvenie, giving a hint of what you’re about to enjoy in each bottle. Each piece is individually hand formed, sculpted and detailed with the aid of special tools and silversmithing techniques.
Three more craftsmen will be included in this initiative in the upcoming year.
Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about the finer points of craftsmanship, do sign up for workshops conducted by these experts. Register at www.connoisseursofcraft.com.