A new whisky offers glimpse into the Age of Transformation through rare Norman Parkinson imagery, writes Alex Martin.
When another fine and rare whisky is paired with an NFT, modernity is championed ahead of heritage. The focus is taken away from the liquid and directed towards something of the moment, with questionable value. But each highly-aged whisky is a time capsule and should be celebrated. Sealed in a cask for decades, it retains the essence of its era. This intangible quality is difficult to explain, but the Ladyburn 1966 Edition Two does a remarkable job of it.
Distilled at a time of remarkable social transformation and left to age for 55 years, the Ladyburn 1966 Edition Two transports you back in time through the lens of fashion photographer Norman Parkinson. Strictly limited to 210 bottles, each decanter carries one of 10 individual photographic works from Parkinson’s portfolio. Like the whisky inside the decanter, many of these photos have been unseen for decades, only to be rediscovered during the project’s curation phase.
With thousands of photos to choose from, William Grant & Sons sought one of fashion’s most discerning figures, Suzy Menkes, to select the right ones. The former Vogue editor was charged with the task of ensuring each photo captured the spirit of the 1960s and paid homage to Parkinson’s legacy. All of the photos were taken between 1960 and 1969 and display Parkinson’s groundbreaking ability to capture the personality of his subjects.[See also: The best whisky advisors for high-net-worths]
Jonathan Driver, MD of William Grant & Sons’ Private Clients division said: “Curating the Ladyburn Limited Edition series has been a fascinating journey. It is indicative of the mood of the sixties and the spirit of our own family founders, that what was a conceptual, exploration project holds such tremendous legacy today.”
With many of the 210 bottles only available as part of a set of 11 (the 11th bottle features a special ‘black swan’ label with a monochrome image), the Ladyburn 1966 Edition Two will be just as challenging to source as Parkinson’s imagery. In fact, all bottles will be reserved for William Grant & Sons’ private clients and available by appointment only. Nothing worth having comes easy, however, and this is certainly worth having.
Ladyburn is one of Scotland’s most elusive ghost distilleries. Opened in 1966 with state-of-the-art technology, it closed after just nine years. Today, there are fewer than 200 casks remaining in William Grant & Sons’ possession. While it did not manage to produce much whisky, Ladyburn left an enduring legacy on the industry. Its revolutionary design, which for the first time in whisky history automated the distilling process, changed the way William Grant & Sons, owner of Glenfiddich and The Balvenie, operated.
Much of its whisky has gone on to age beautifully, an indication of the company’s commitment to high-quality casks. The Ladyburn 1966 was aged in a sherry butt, giving a deep mahogany colour and a rich profile.
Brian Kinsman, malt master at William Grant & Sons said: “Cask 102089 selected for Ladyburn Edition Two was one of only a handful of Ladyburn 1966 sherry butts that stood out and exemplified the character of the distillery. Its contents are a match to Norman Parkinson’s enduring images that tell such a compelling story of the 1960s. They come together to create an unseen wonder.”
Ladyburn 1966 Edition Two will eventually form part of a triptych of remarkable releases. It follows 2021’s Edition One, which saw a single bottle of whisky labeled with a highly sought-after, hand-signed photograph by David Bailey of John Lennon. The bottle sold for $108,000 at The Distillers One of One Whisky Auction.
Image credit: Burgess Studios