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Glenmorangie rare dram comes with hefty price tag after Tain/Tokyo hook-up

By Hector MacKenzie

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Azuma Makoto has worked with Dr Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie. Picture: www.benpetercatchpole.com
Azuma Makoto has worked with Dr Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie. Picture: www.benpetercatchpole.com

AN Easter Ross distillery is today toasting the launch of an ‘extraordinarily rare’ limited edition dram resulting from a collaboration between Tain and Tokyo.

Glenmorangie Dr Bill Lumsden x Azuma Makoto 23 Years Old single malt is described as “rich, elemental and embodying the wonder of the natural world” and costs around a £1000 a bottle.

The dram arose from a partnership between Glenmorangie’s director of whisky creation Dr Bill Lumsden and the Japanese botanical artist, Azuma Makoto.


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Azuma Makoto has worked with Dr Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie. Picture: Glnemorangie
Azuma Makoto has worked with Dr Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie. Picture: Glnemorangie

It’s said to reflect their shared love of nature and all that it encompasses, a concept known in Japanese as shinra bansho. Inspired by that whisky’s complex notes of flowers, rain-soaked moss and earthy hints, Azuma Makoto has created “a botanical masterpiece”, depicted on the edition’s packaging.

Azuma – a close friend of the brand – was inspired by the beauty of the surroundings on a visit to the distillery. The acclaimed botanical artist shared with Dr Bill the notion of shinra bansho, which embraces the ground, the sky and everything in between. Together they imagined how they might collaborate to create a uniquely delicious single malt which celebrates nature in all its forms.

Lumsden first took a classic Glenmorangie, long aged in bourbon casks, heady with aromas of lemon balsam and orchids. He united that single malt with Glenmorangie’s first whisky ever finished in casks which once held Chardonnay white wine from the Meursault appellation in Burgundy. With its notes of moss dampened by rainfall, burning oak and earthy scents of the forest floor, he created what the firm describes as “a truly elemental whisky”.

In his Tokyo studio, Azuma Makoto drew on the whisky’s flavours to create his own efforts. Gathering orchids, roses and countless wild flowers from Scotland and around the world, he wove them through tree bark, roots and moss. His complex, flowing botanical sculpture “is Azuma’s own tribute to nature’s evolving harmonies”.

Dr Bill said: “Our collaboration with Azuma Makoto is a delicious celebration of nature’s wonder. Including our first whisky finished in Chardonnay casks from Burgundy, this 23-year-old single malt encapsulates nature in all its forms, through notes of lemon balsam, poached pears and cocoa powder layered on the oaky, earthy tones of the forest floor. Azuma’s stunning sculpture, featured on the whisky’s packaging, evokes the fragrant scents and elemental depths of this extraordinarily rare whisky – a gift from nature itself.”

Azuma Makoto said: “I was honoured to partner with Dr Bill for this special celebration of shinra bansho. My sculpture is a response to my view of Earth’s blessings – my sense of gratitude for nature – and for the flavour of the Highlands, expressed deliciously in Dr Bill’s whisky.”

The whisky will be available in select retailers in the UK, China, Japan, Taiwan, India and the USA as well as Glenmorangie’s inaugural boutique at London’s Heathrow airport, Terminal 2.

A link to find out more and purchase can be found here.

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