Johnnie Walker opens the 1st Johnnie Walker Blue Label Art Gallery in Singapore’s Changi International Airport
Story & photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet
All rights reserved
The intrepid Travelling Gourmet tastes Blue Label and interviews Diageo’s Marketing Director…
MANY discerning connoisseurs regard Johnnie Walker Blue Label as one of the world’s finest whiskies. On 19th September, 2013, the 1st Johnnie Walker Blue Label Art Gallery in the world was launched in multi award winning Changi International Airport’s Terminal 1. Three of Singapore’s contemporary progressive artists had their original art works showcased in huge 2.5 meter high Johnnie Walker bottles, painstakingly cast from inert epoxy resin in the USA. The Singapore skyline with the iconic Singapore Flyer, ArtsScience Museum and Marina Bay Sands’ “Big Surfboard” plus the avant garde art works, like artist Brandon Tay’s “Metamorphosis” were projected inside the giant bottles, while the VIP guests savoured a free flow of “that rare blend”, delectable Johnnie Walker Blue Label Whisky! The other two featured local Singaporean artists were Priscilla Shamugam with her psychedelically colourful work entitled “Architectural Couture”, and Alvin Tan whose mesmerizing work using paper sculptures was inspired by Aristotle the philosopher, plus the explorer Dr. Livingstone. Priscilla Shanmugam’s CGI video showed the iconic buildings of Singapore combined with the flowing organic patterns of traditional fabrics. The bottles became the 21st Century “canvas” where their art works could be displayed using the latest projection technology. Unlike a painting which does not move, the art here is animated and changes its shape and form merging form one image into another seamlessly. You can also watch the videos of each artist explaining how they were inspired and how they put their artwork together. Over a million travellers are expected to see this exhibition which runs from 19 September, 2013 until 31 October, 2013 in Changi International Airport.
Diageo’s regional headquarters is based in Singapore, and it is one of the world’s leading premium drinks business with a portfolio of premium alcohol beverage brands including spirits, wines and beers like Smirnoff, Baileys & Captain Morgan. According to Ms. Joy Rice, Diageo’s Director for Asia-Pacific Supply Chain Support, Diageo already commands more than 30 per cent of market share in Asia, which will account for 20 per cent of its global revenue by 2015. Joy added, “The region is volatile but brings many growth opportunities. Asia is now the world’s No. 1 Spirits market and is expected to be home to 54 per cent of the global middle class by 2020.
The Johnnie Walker brand is owned by Diageo, and in an exclusive interview, Marketing Director of Diageo Global Travel Retail & Middle East, affable Stephen White said, “We wanted to do something unique and bespoke to Singapore. The actual inspiration for the art projected by CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) inside a bottle came from the age old tradition of a ‘message in a bottle’. It also ties in with the idea of rarity, as only one in 10,000 casks of our rarest whiskies are handpicked by our Master Blender to create Blue Label. We know that travellers love to bring back unique memories from their journeys which serve as a beautiful reminder of their experience. The Johnnie Walker Blue Label skyline range meets that need for our high-flying jet-setting consumers. Tailoring a product to the local market is a mark of our commitment to offering innovaton and differentiation to our travellers.”
I asked Stephen why Johnnie Walker decided to link Blue Label and Art.
Stephen explained with a smile, “We also studied what our discerning and affluent consumers are interested in…and they like rare art & progressive artists.”
“Which other airports will the Art Gallery travel to?” was my next question, and Stephen said, “After Changi International Airport, the Art Gallery will open in London’s Heathrow Airport and then move to Miami International Airport. The art of contemporary local artists will be featured also in London and Miami.”
A Limited Edition range of serial numbered Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottles exquisitely etched with a rare liquid gold imprint of the skylines of Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York & Auckland, will be available in the Airport DFS outlets of the 7 cities. The individually serial numbered bottles are accompanied by a bespoke sleeve. Priced at just US$399 per 1 liter bottle, DFS Singapore has only been allocated 150 bottles. Inside is the precious exquisite rare blend of the finest Scotch Whisky. Founded in Hong Kong in 1960, DFS Group is the world’s leading luxury travel retailer operating in 10 countries across three continents. The company is majority owned by LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy). DFS presents the world’s luxury brands to over 35 million world travellers each year at its 14 downtown Gallerias and in 18 international airports.
I queried Stephen on what are the best markets for Johnnie Walker Blue Label in Asia. He replied, “China and Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. In Asia, our fans are balanced between gentlemen and ladies, and belong to a younger age group. To them Blue Label symbolizes success, progress and rarity.”
“How is Blue label when compared with Johnnie Walker Red Label and Black Label or instance?” I asked.
“Well, Red Label is vibrant…more spicy and perfect for mixing with Soda in your classic Whisky and Soda. The intrinsic flavours stand up well to the other mixers but it can also be made into a cocktail with juices and other alcoholic beverages. Black Label on the other hand is a blend of whiskies from 29 distilleries across all of Scotland…from peaty Scotch to peppery…it is all there. With ice, on the rocks, light floral flavours emerge.” Stephen elaborated.
Golden Johnnie Walker Blue Label Whisky has a mellow, rounded nose with a most pleasing signature smokiness. On the palate, a velvety, smooth as silk unaggressive texture and taste with hazelnut and honey nuances. With every sip…addictive unique flavours from the barrel emerge like dark chocolate and a hint of kumquats, some tobacco plus the delightful lingering finish of sweet Muscatel raisins. As my Scottish friend, Captain Patrick Glendinning, who fought communist terrorists in the steaming jungles of Malaya as a Gurkha officer in the 10th Gurkha Rifles, always says, “Good whisky must be enjoyed naked…like a woman.” Slainte mvhath! (old Gaelic toast) 🙂