Brands do this all the time. Collaborate with a fellow renowned brand or commission a notable person of interest. Nonetheless, if the brief here is not so much novelty but an apt fit for the occasion: Johnnie Walker clearly understood the assignment.

When you see the work of Taiwanese-American artist James Jean, you can’t think of a better mind to conceptualise what the Year of the Dragon could look like as a Blue Label skin. The vibrant, sinewy, yet altogether modern aesthetic wraps around the bottle in a playful, textural imprint.

According to Jean, the natural motifs prevalent in his work takes on the form of flowers and organic tendrils. These floral traits evoke the idea of roots; a connection. These are the bridges between respect for the past and looking ahead to the future with hope.

Celebrated artist James Jean and his designed Johnnie Walker bottle

Plus, the most powerful creature in the Chinese Zodiac and the highest-grade whisky in the JW collection? Insert Epic Handshake meme. If you're familiar with the Blue Label, you'd know that the blend is made from unparalleled—a term not lightly used here—Johnnie Walker reserves of Scotch maturation.

How Many Makes the Cut?

Chiefly because only one in 10,000 make the cut. It's selected from 10 million casks; of which some irreplaceable ones are sourced from long-closed ‘ghost’ distilleries (Cambus, Pittyvaich, Brora, Port Ellen, for the whisky experts among you). A 12-strong blending team infuses these rarities from across all four regions of Scotland, and it’s these very complexities that the visual artist was inspired to interpret.

“There are hidden elements in the picture as well—layers to be discovered, just like the layers in this incredible whisky,” he says, “I want the viewer to peel back the layers and discover more about the image. I want my work to function from far away but reveal more details the more closely you explore the imagery.”

Now where better to witness it up close than in Depth of Blue Room. The brand’s first flagship bar in Southeast Asia sits at the Park Hyatt Bangkok penthouse. It enhances the launch experience with a multi-sensory tasting complete with dedicated cocktails, an immersive room and scented touches. It presented a truly extravagant, thematic dive into what makes Blue Label a big deal.

It’s far from the first time a brand has pulled out all the stops. But such a celebration is certainly a worthy altar for a release as limited edition as this.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label (James Jean edition) is out now.

It's Chinese New Year and, of course, the brands will capitalise on the Year of the Dragon. We compiled several dragon-themed fashion pieces before and this time, we are showcasing spirits. From Martell to Asahi, here are some of our favourites.

Martell

Martell Cordon Bleu Limited Edition—The Swift of Peace

In this collaborative effort, Martell worked with Vincent Darré. Known for his flamboyant creations Darré brings a contemporary vision to this exclusive release.

Darré delved into Martell's archival illustrations and accounts to immerse himself in the alchemy of the distillery. He evoked the grace of doves of peace; weaving an allegory where the Martell Swift becomes a universal messenger of warmth and generosity. The blue ribbon of Martell Cordon Bleu serves as the thread connecting the swifts, mirroring the cognac's ability to unite people with its generous taste. In Darré's vision, the Martell Swift is a cognac ambassador, traversing land and sea to deliver a message of hospitality to all corners of the world. The gift box is a cut-away masterpiece that tells the story of the bottle: the swifts, the globe and the blue ribbon create a portrayal of the Swift's voyage and the globally acclaimed Martell Cordon Bleu. True to Darré's signature style, both the box and the bottle exhibit a watercolour effect.

Martell Noblige Limited Edition – The Surreal Encounter

Another bottle that Vincent Darré tackled is the Martell Noblige. His animal of choice? The stately dragon. As this Lunar New Year's latest zodiac representative, the dragon pays tribute to the meeting of two cultures, represented by a magnificent, dazzling dragon and an elegant, stylised Swift, symbolising Maison Martell’s spirit of freedom. It also highlights the historic connection between China and Martell, thanks of their first shipment to the country in 1858.

The bottle and gift box depict ships laden with precious cognac are guided on their voyage. From France, its marked by flying swifts, while twin dragons welcome them on their arrival in China.

Royal Salute 21 Year Old Lunar New Year Limited Edition 

Royal Salute, the blended aged Scotch whisky brand unveils a special edition gift pack. The artwork is courtesy of Chinese-born creator Yunshu Li. Echoing the festivity's vibrancy, it cradles the regal elixir—the Royal Salute 21 Year Old Signature Blend.

With a dazzling swirl of details, Li weaves figurative cues, unleashing a cascade of colour that captures the spirit of celebration. The iconic "gun salute" is a shot fired from the Tower of London; the bouquets symbolises wishes of happiness, growth, prosperity and love. At its core, the 21 Year Old Signature Blend, is a sophisticated and opulent character. With notes of ripened fruits and delicate spice notes, making it the choice for the elevation of celebratory moments.

William Grant & Sons

Glenfiddich A Gift For Blossoming Futures

Glenfiddich's celebrates with "A Gift For Blossoming Futures." Collaborating with Raku Inoue, this limited edition collection symbolises the anticipation of new starts and a life in full bloom. Inspired by nature, Inoue's artistry breathes life into the fusion of the iconic Glenfiddich stag and the mythical Wood Dragon.

This limited edition series extends throughout Glenfiddich's core range— the Reserva Rum Cask 21 Year Old pack, the 12, 15 and 18 Year Old variants. Each gift pack comes with Glenfiddich-branded whisky glasses.

(Find an immersive Glenfiddich experience at the CNY Pop-Up at Suntec City Atrium Tower 3 & 4 until February 4, 2024.)

Edrington

Macallan

Macallan's "A Night on Earth," a single malt Scotch whisky that transcends the ordinary. It's about reuniting with a loved one and this limited-edition bottle is the product after the maturation in sherry-seasoned European and American oak casks with American ex-bourbon barrels.

Working with mixed-media artist Nini Sum from Shanghai, each layer of the pack becomes a canvas of meaning. Sum's vibrant illustrations adorn each "A Night on Earth" package. From the first glimpse to the final pour, every moment with "A Night on Earth" is designed to invoke a sense of awe.

Diageo

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Lunar New Year edition (James Jean)

Artist James Jean can do no wrong and he gives the Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottle a lovely festive facelift. In his reinterpretation of the Wood Dragon, the serpentine beast "springs from bountiful flora
and fauna, and bursts to life with auspicious ambition". Composed of flora elements, the dragon sits in a layered artwork that has nods to Johnnie Walker like the chrysanthemums that represents the liquid gold. "I want the viewer to peel back the layers and discover more about the image," Jean says. "I want my work to function from far away but reveal more details the more closely you explore the imagery.”

Moët Hennessy Diageo Singapore

Hennessy "Dragon's Odyssey" collection (Yang Yongliang)

From left: the Hennessy V.S.O.P, Paradis and X.O; all given the Yang Yongliang treatment

Roping in the talents of Chinese multimedia artist, Yang Yongliang, the "Dragon's Odyssey" collection takes the traditional dragon and breathes new life into it via a digital reworking. Hennessy has its bottles—Hennessy V.S.O.P; Paradis and Hennessy X.O—given a makeover that's inspired by Yang's "Dragon's Odyssey" piece. The V.S.O.P is a vibrant red hue to usher in CNY and the Paradis the porcelain decanter features hand-painted gold dragon motifs and is crafted by Bernardaud, a 160 year-old French heritage porcelain maker. The Paradis is limited in 485 numbered pieces. Lastly, the X.O is another limited edition that comes in a gold colourway.

Brown-Forman

Benriach The Twelve Dragon Edition

From Speyside, Scotland, Benriach puts out its 2020 relaunch of its 12 year olds. Called The Twelve, the single malt was overseen by Master Blender Rachel Barrie as it mature in a troika of casks—sherry, bourbon, and Port. The results are dried fruit notes, coffee and spices. This limited edition is made even special thanks to the dragon edition; the taste is the same but the design gets a CNY treatment.

Asahi

Asahi Super Dry (Hermippe)

Asahi gives their Super Dry beer the pixelated once-over. Japanese pixel artist, Hermippe, gives his own spin of the dragon. Hermippe’s intricate design uses something called a “mixel”, which is a technique that combines several types of dot sizes to create the illustration. The final result is the dragon that reflects a future full of possibilities and with the collaboration, it gives the vibrancy of modern Japan.

crosschevron-down