While it’s true that Balvenie Whisky is good all the time. It’s also true that colder nights cry out for this handcrafted spirit.
This is a love story. A kind of food and drink love triangle involving a distilled spirit, a celebrated TV host and chef, and the romance of artisanal craftspeople. Before you think this Examiner has indulged in a wee too many drams of whiskey, read the story of passion and dedication and commitment. There’s no denying it. Love is what threads through the narrative.
Fittingly, it was back right before Valentine’s Day last year when Balvenie, the branded single malt whisky, announced it had wooed Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown- as Curator of Rare Craft Collection The collaboration continues through May 2016. (Longer than many a relationship, no?)
It looked like a partnership made for each other as viewed at the Balvenie Rare Craft Collection NYC elegantly-produced event, held to premiere the skilled artisans and their artful creations as selected by Mr. Bourdain. The staging of the New York City pop-up location was completely outfitted for the occasion, including tasting stations, of course, and the re-creations of the five artists’ studios or workshops. The artists were all keen to greet the guests and demonstrate their craft. They did, however, look humble and overwhelmed… New York does that to folks.
The unmistakable Mr. Bourdain was, not surprisingly, in the thick of it; looking for all the world to be happy to talk about the Collection, his process of selecting the featured artists, and his sincere respect for those who dedicate themselves to producing the very best, hand-crafted arts.
In a one-on-one interview, the very eloquent Mr. Bourdain explained the process surrounding the selection of the featured artists; how over the course of the year he was introduced to some, others he already knew and was eager to have the opportunity to celebrate their talent. He noted he has a profound appreciation for the artists’ idealism and the undeniable romance they have with what they do and make (see, there’s that love element of mystery and excitement.) He offered a few examples. “Elizabeth Brim the lady blacksmith artist, did everything you’re not supposed to do,” he said with gusto and pride. “And yet, here she is, doing what she does – because of her passion.” Their art is magical,” he added – referencing all the Balvenie selected artisans. “They break the mold,” Bourdain explained.
The branded – yet sincere link between the Balvenie Collection and the artists is to underscore and help reinforce the bespoke sustainability and craft-man/woman-ship of the single malt whiskey. Bourdain has worked with Balvenie to produce some top tier videos of his drink exploration in the William Grant & sons Scottish distillery. Makes for fun – and educational viewing. Raw Craft with Anthony Bourdain – Episode One: Borough …Raw Craft video series, Parts Unknown host Anthony Bourdain visits Dufftown, Scotland, to see where The Balvenie whiskey is hand-crafted.
It should be noted that Balvenie executes staggeringly flawless, elegantly-staged events. From the detailed homage bios and social media contacts for the chosen artists featured in the Collection, to the accessible opportunity to taste the product and to learn from the Balvenie executives and their Brand Ambassador: Mr. Bourdain. This is one class act — so their Rare Craft distilled beverages are, not surprisingly, authentic and artisanal. Mr. David Laird, the “dreamy” Balvenie Ambassador, USA, Andrew Weir, and their colleagues were especially – (dare we say “rare”) – cordial hosts.
Tony Likes to Talk
Not long after the opportunity to meet the select Belvenie Collection artists and their creations – the guests – including an eager Martha Stewart, headed upstairs for a kind of fireside chat – (minus the fire) where Bourdain and Balvenie’s brand manager, Weir, sat on high stools and talked whiskey experience and Balvenie’s Rare Craft. It’s a good tale. Following questions, the guests were invited to taste the barrel aged whisky.
Sublime. And Rare…