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.
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.
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.
With the way things are going, years down the line, our culinary scene might be transformed out of necessity. Known for its innovation, Johnnie Walker Blue Label collaborated with several forward-thinking chefs about the future of dining. To kick things off, the label got chefs Andrew Walsh (CURE), Mickael Viljanen (Chapter One) and Mark Moriarty (Diageo)to create a menu centred around the theme: "Air. Land. Sea." Here's how it went:
Taking place at CURE, the six-course dinner utilised AI-inspired digital artwork and 2D and 3D animations throughout the evening. Served on a table with projections exploring "sky, ocean and land", the entire endeavour reminds us of Le Petit Chef but this time, it is a more sombre affair.
Diners were proffered the question: what will the future be like in an era of global warming, overfishing and overfarming? What will the dining experience be like when certain ingredients are scarce? With this in mind, alternative elements were used for the dishes served. (Steak was replaced with red-earth cabbage!)
As diners contemplate the import of heirloom ingredients in a shifting industry and environment, the dishes were paired with exclusive Johnnie Walker Blue Label cocktails. While the menu was created solely for the evening's experience, the dessert, Velvet Cloud Yoghurt 2223, along with a Johnnie Walker Blue Label pairing, were made available to the public at CURE… albeit for a limited time.
In a world that's ravaged by corporations' greed, it's a sobering look at how we will eat. Especially, around the time of CURE's 8th anniversary. But it is Chef Andrew Walsh's hope that this menu would cultivate conversation. And that conversation would lead to acts, which would lead to positive change. It is a perfect alignment with Johnnie Walker Blue Label's commitment to sustainability and innovation. One that will be the stepping stone to a better culinary and spirited future.