The Highland Park Hero’s Chest Dinner was on Thursday night, and it has possibly moved up to one of the most inspiring evenings… of my life… so far! At precisely 7pm, 10 designers/creatives were invited into the gate of Magnus Walker’s Urban Outlaw Garage in Downtown LA. As we mingled over cocktails, the group quickly found familiar faces, and those they didn’t know personally, they definitely knew of… and more often than not the admiration was mutual. From the men behind Baxter of California and Icon 4x4, to Oakley and BasecampX… from Triple Aught Design (and new secret project, Prometheus Design Werx) to Acquire and KILLSPENCER and Johnnyswim… and more! As giddy as I was to see each of these folks, it was inspiring to see how thrilled they were to see one another! It was beyond an honor to be able to sneak in as one of the few women amongst these inspiring men. Over Highland Park Mint Juleps, the mingling filled with anticipation and you could hear the awe and cameras clicking as soon as the garage door opened to unveil Magnus’ collection of vintage racing Porsche 911s… and then up to dinner… which includes tastes of a Highland Park Whiskey from 1968! Also Show & Tell was mandatory ~ “Please bring an item of yours that says a little about you - something that you can’t live without.” See it all on the next page…
Entries tagged with: scotch
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I’ve been learning a lot from Shawn and have come a long way since we first got our Laser Cutter! My latest little project is for last night’s Highland Park Hero’s Chest Dinner (inspiration overload!) ~ etching table and bar signage into real spanish sherry oak cask wood that was used to create the delicious Highland Park Whiskey we tasted during the evening! And the added bonus was that with each cut and etch, you could smell the complex aromas absorbed into the wood over the years… The challenge was to laser etch the aged (and very curved!) wood, but keep the final outcome looking just as aged… Take a peek on the next page!
The latest package that arrived just made me wish i was a dad. How weird is that? This Macallan 18 year & Shwood Sunglass gift set in a gorgeous wood box just arrived as potential Father’s Day gifting ideas… but i love them both! No offense, to Dads, but these should really go on the gift list for Moms, Grads, friends,… any occasion really! The glasses above are Shwood’s Canby in East Indian Rosewood with grey polarized lenses. The only thing that would take this gift set further… if only Shwood and Macallan would truly join forces and make a series of sunglasses from actual Macallan casks. Different woods to go with the various scotches… i’d rock the Sherry Oak Cask sunglasses any day! Take a peek at the awesome packaging and details on the next page!
Beautiful. I couldn’t put the canister and bottle down when i first laid eyes on it ~ the Bruichladdich Organic 2003 Anns An T-Seann Doigh (Gaelic for “In the traditional way”) is a limited edition of 15,000 bottles. Apparently they were the first in the world to have an Organic Islay single malt… and this edition was so delicious, they’ve even created The Organic for full scale release. They have always had such tempting and stunning packaging and typography, but the thin gold illustration (feeling very art deco meets tech styling) on the matte army green bottle is incredible. Coloring free, the whisky itself has a light glow to it ~ and the flavor is definitely on the lighter/fresher side of the spectrum… but even when emptied, this bottle isn’t going anywhere… and that canister would make for an awesome kid’s piggy bank! Ready to take a peek at the packaging details up close? To the next page!
Leave it to The Macallan Ambassador, Graeme Russell, to always find me the fascinating design details in the world of Macallan. After yesterday’s Masters of Photography Albert Watson launch in NYC, we hopped a train up to Boston for a scotch tasting dinner at Mooo in the XV Beacon (where i’m currently curled up in the four poster bed with the toasty fireplace at my toes). Design discovery of the dinner? Vintage Roll n’ Pour Jigger… this particular design makes me think of a unicorn! Also, take a peek at the vintage Macallan’s (awesome labels and bottles) and photographs from the Watson limited edition series that adorn our table in their wine cellar on the next page…
p.s. Any Boston shopping tips? I have some free time tomorrow to wander Boston for the first time in years and years before hopping a train back to NYC on sunday…
Oooh these 4am posts after afterparties are becoming a dangerous habit! But there’s just something more fun about sharing gorgeous experiences with you quickly while i’m still riding the wave of inspiration from the preceding hours.
Tonight was the NYC launch of The Macallan’s Masters of Photography second series, featuring stunning photographs by the renowned, Albert Watson. The series is a limited edition set of special Masters of Photography bottles of Macallan paired with platinum prints. While visiting the Macallan Estate a few months ago, they teased us with sneak peeks of the images… projected on the screen in a dark room, while sipping the limited edition deliciousness (i can’t even tell you how spectacular this particular blend is! Yum.) our jaws dropped as we begged them to let us seem them again. So months later, it is a delight to finally see the prints in their true form… and meet Albert Watson himself! (Our friends at Cool Hunting have a lovely interview with him about the series.)
This project follows the story of the casks… from the trees in spain as they become barrels and as barrels become filled with what is aged to become the scotch we know and love in Scotland… and it’s photographed through the eyes of a couple going on a romantic and adventurous roadtrip from spain to scotland. As fun as it is to see the models and mini, the images of nature, the wood as it gets transformed, and the FIRE, are truly breath taking! See all of the platinum print images on the Masters of Photography site.So before i embark on a little road trip with the Macallan in a few hours, i wanted to give you a peek at the launch event, the behind the scenes video, and more… see it all on the next page!
CES was a lot more relaxed this year when Friday night i hid out with Oakley’s 3D Optics Team and Macallan in a suite party and so many amazing friends popped by too… also the perfect way to get a relaxed, fun view of their new 3D glasses while sipping some delicious Macallan 25 (omg, so good) and also play with their ice balls… and the vegas views from up in the Aria were a gorgeous sparkling backdrop! And in between, i couldn’t help taking a bunch of silly pictures you’ll have to peek at on the next page!
Oh! And i learned a lot about the 3D glasses world too… i’ll admit at first i couldn’t understand why i needed some if i didn’t have a 3D tv, but imaging going to someone’s house who does have one (and not enough glasses for everyone) or bringing your own that are more comfortable, better optics (and definitely look better) than the ones in theaters? Also, who knows where those others have been??? Whether i’m ready to have a pair handy in my purse at all times remains to be seen… and imagine a sports bar looking like this? But i’m definitely warming up to the idea of having my own for when those 3D situations do pop up! Anyhow, back to the pics! See more pics of the view, the glasses, the Macallan, and more on the next page!
On fun birthday surprises, this gorgeous gift box of The Macallan 18 arrived earlier, and there is something so dazzling about it i can’t stop staring. Especially alongside the Absolut Glimmer, sparkly is definitely going around this season. Also the 2D 3D cube patterns… like the Samsung Tweet Wraps! Well this gift box is mesmerizing, between the various shades of purple and silver, embossed and matte, the pretty little ribbon pull tab and built in card, who wouldn’t smile receiving one? A few fun snap shots of the real thing on the next page!
While in London last week, popped by the Highland Park 50 year old launch event at Harrods ~ and the bottle is stunning! There’s just something so unmistakeably beautiful about the way the sterling silver “squeezes” the glass, making it bulge ever so slightly. Apparently it is also holding the oldest ever island single malt ~ and hand-crafted ornate bottle is designed by Scottish Jewelry designer, Maeve Gillies, who was inspired by the elemental forces of Orkney ~ from the seas, island life, wild elements, and natural light. Perhaps the loveliest little secret hidden within this bottle ~ “In recognition of the famous St Magnus Cathedral and its medieval beauty, the front of each bottle features a single piece of circular Orkney sandstone into which is hand-carved the Highland Park amulette. Inside the bottle, behind this sandstone, lies a Sterling silver replica of the St Magnus rose window which is revealed over time as the whisky is enjoyed.” It really was such a tease at the event, when they would show you the bottle, and hint at the replica of the rose window you can’t quite see behind… And as lovely as the bottle, is the hand carved Scottish oak box as well ~ love the porthole you can peer through to see the bottle… Take a peek at closeups on the next page ~ the 275 bottles are a Harrods exclusive till the end of Oct.
It makes perfect sense to pair a fragrance specialist with a drinks brand, when scent is such a critical component of any drink experience! It’s been a Liqurious few weeks between being with Veuve Clicquot in the champagne region, and then with The Macallan in the scottish highlands the last few weeks, and one thing that’s been pressed into me is the importance of the Nose… sniffing the various notes, tasting and appreciating the various scents, and layers of scents… granted, i’ve played with the 50 Vial Aroma Set Maestro Dobel had sent over… but it isn’t until this experience with Roja Dove that i fully understood how all of these notes fit together.
The Macallan has teamed up with Roja Dove (changed from Rodger) ~ who is a frangrance specialist, who went from doing medical research at Cambridge, to nearly 20 years working in the House of Guerlain, to opening his own extremely curated haven of a parfumerie in Harrods, where customers can even have bespoke scents made from scratch (not just tweaked from existing ones)… What’s unique here, is that together, The Macallan and the non-whisky loving Roja Dove (he had some bad experiences with as a kid with whisky) have found a way to separate the experience of the scents found in The Macallan from the actual taste/alcohol. And this special kit Roja Dove has created contains 12 scents to allow brand ambassadors to share the experience of learning and understanding the layers of scents that come together to form both the Sherry Oak and Fine Oak Whisky. Take a peek at more pictures of the experience, the kit, and explanations of the various scents i experienced. It was rather…. nose opening, to say the least.
This morning, we attempted to create our ideal whisky from (amongst others) the samples we collected from 12 year old casks of The Macallan. Bob Dalgarno, The Macallan Whisky Maker, taught us so much about the art of whisky making, and the complicated challenge of smelling, tasting, and seeing how to make the perfect bottles of The Macallan, to that perfect smell/taste/color we’ve come to know and love. As he explained the difficulty of making something so consistent from so many varying casks of whisky, and even deciding which casks are decided to be set aside to age longer and such ~ the most creative aspect to emerge was his challenge to us to smell the differences between an array of samples to attune our palates… only to ask us to create in our minds… our ideal whisky. What does it smell like? What does it taste like? What does it make you think of?
And from that, The Macallan NOTCOT Edition was born… can it ever be recreated? Probably not. But i have one little bottle of it! I apparently like my scotch smooth with a deliciously dark maple flavor amidst the spicy woody spanish sherry oak… (Macallan 18 is my everyday favorite ~ but the upcoming Masters of Photography series, omg, deliciousness)… in my head i imagined a cozy comforting log cabin, and since it was early, on not too much sleep, and after a light breakfast… i was loving the maple aromas, i think i had pancakes on my mind…
Anyhow, it is unbelievably hard trying to decipher the aromas, figuring out which samples to mix, finding the right notes to layer for that drinkable delicious whisky with a nice long finish… but we tried. And bonus points to Evan from Cool Hunting who was definitely the whisky maker with the most potential in our group! His smelled divine! And delicious too! Don’t get me wrong, NOTCOT edition is yummy as well ~ my bottle of that is coming home with me! It was incredibly fun and fascinating to play with the awesome syringes to mix samples in our bottles, measure the percentage of alcohol, taste test, and more ~ while i’m no master whisky maker in the making, i definitely have a new appreciation for exactly how much work is going into even just mixing the right casks to make the bottles that show up on the shelf! But, that’s enough rambling for now ~ you really must see how incredible The Macallan lab/Bob’s office is! And the process we went through making our own Macallan whisky ~ all on the next page!
SO! As you probably know by now, The Macallan has me out in scotland, exploring and learning and playing with all things scotch. In fact, they’ve kept me so excitedly busy, it’s been hard to find enough time to process and post! Or even figure out where to start… so here’s how its going to go, i’ll share the most unique bits as i can! And one of the most exciting places to start is ~ SAMPLING!
With so many thousands of casks in so many warehouses with all these slight variations in wood, in atmosphere, in unexplained magical natural occurrences that may make even casks from the same batch differ in flavor, colors, and more, the only way to find and create the perfect single malt is through sampling, tasting, and keeping an eye on each cask as the whisky within matures over time (so anywhere from 5 years to decades?)… on amazingly awesome experiences, we got to go along with the Macallan boys (Thanks, Jim and Gary, and apologies for the times i accidentally squirted whisky on you!) and actually get our hands dirty and help do the sampling! From drilling holes, pumping out samples, filling vials, (maybe sneaking a taste here and there) and plugging the hole! See the process we experienced in the warehouse on the next page!
p.s. The picture above? Can you believe that is the Macallan 1964 that is filling the Lalique Cire Perdue - This 1946 cask became 64 years old in January 2010!
p.p.s. i can’t even begin to tell you how incredible these warehouses smell.
Scotch and Photography go together so perfectly! Is it any surprise that the Macallan is incredibly inspirational to photographers? And has inspired Rankin to make a breathtaking series of 1000 polaroids of their estate? The Macallan Masters of Photography collaborations are incredible ~ after Rankin, the latest is with Albert Watson! But back to the topic at hand…
Upon moving, many things i meant to write about got hidden in boxes, and have been resurfacing bit by bit! Amongst them, this incredible book, A Photographic Essay of The Macallan Estate ~ which includes the 1000 polaroids taken by incredible photographer Rankin! These polaroids were part of the 1000 bottle series of Masters of Photography Rankin edition 30yr Macallan project, each bottle with a different polaroid image on the label, and boxed with the polaroid itself. Truly one of a kind! But sadly, when viewing the bottles a few at a time, you simply don’t get the whole picture that Rankin’s photographs as a whole tell of the place! He shot photos all around the Macallan Estate ~ of the buildings, of the stills, of the greenery, of the cows… and in many his nude muse/wife posed amongst them. I love that Rankin sees this project of 1000 polaroids more as a poem than a narrative as he created an amazing portrait of the Macallan world. It feels so meta to be sharing photos of a book of photos with you, but you really must see how amazing some of these images are! And i can’t wait to experience it all first hand! Take a peek at some of my favorites from the Rankin/Macallan experience on the next page!
The latest in the Dear NOTCOT guest posts… here’s one from my old friend, Jackson Stakeman, who just might become our food editor… if we’re lucky! He was kind enough to help attend what sounds like a delicious event, and being a professional photographer AND food connoisseur, his pics are looking awesomely scrumptious!
Laid out underneath the enormous iconic tree of the Santa Monica Fairmont Hotel, StarChefs held its annual Rising Stars Revue. Tables were laid out in a massive ring, and there was fabulous food and drink in all directions. Being there an hour just before sunset, there was a lot of running around trying to photograph everything before losing the perfect light.
The food was fantastic, these rising stars were picked for a good reason, there was lots of amazing tastes, and fun playful ideas as you went table to table. The surprising and minimalist cube sculpture above is actually Jordan Kahn’s violet sauce topped white chocolate cube filled with cream a sponge cake served on a white kitchen tile. Equally amazing was having the chance to experience such a variety of dishes and drink pairings all in one event. It was also a great opportunity to watch many of this year’s rising star chefs prepare these delicacies before my eyes.
Culinary interests aside, the plates were also especially NOTCOT worthy. All of the 13,000 plates were provided by Verterra, whose compostable disposable dinnerware are not only beautiful, but made from fallen leaves!
Ready to dive in to see my favorite dishes of the night? There are plenty more courses on the next page…
Wow. This has definitely been a whirlwind of a week or so, and a very Macallan filled month! A week and a half ago, i thought tasting the 50 and 52 year old Macallan were the oldest my lips may ever touch, but little did i know that this week i’d be sipping the 57 yr old Macallan! Tuesday night was a NOTCOT first. I’ve never played host at a party before! But when Macallan and the W Los Angeles approached me to co-host a party with Julie Wolfson, saying they’d take care of the details, we just had to invite some friends to come indulge with us, how could i say no? Despite the rainy night (which cleared up mid way through the party so we finally got to sneak outside and enjoy the brisk night air, curl up by the fireplace, and smoke cigars while sipping Macallan into the night), we had a great turn out. And as you know, Macallan loves twitter (in fact, our other co-host, The Macallan West Coast Ambassador, Eden Algie ~ just joined twitter, please follow him and message him to convince him to let us throw another LA party!)… so once again live tweeting was up on the screen during the party, and people were tweeting up quite a storm with #macallan (you can see my favorites on the next page!)… one of the highlights of the night was definitely getting to taste the 57 year Macallan in a Lalique crystal decanter… take a peek at the festivities, as well as some of the great coverage and photography to emerge from the event so far!
Tonight, Macallan brought me out to Soho House in NY for quite the surreal experience: Flights of the Decades. Beyond the amazing ice balls (which i’ve been dying to see in action for some time now) ~ tonight i had the opportunity to talk so the inspirational visionary @MacallanKen (aka Ken Grier, Director - Malts) about everything from photography to life adventures to how baking cakes is a lot like scotch… but most importantly, about doing/enabling extraordinary things and people. Also finally got to meet @LivingTheDram (aka Graeme Russell - Macallan Ambassador) ~ with whom i’ve long tweeted about scotch from afar. And everyone at this lovely event was tweeting up a storm ~ all of which were showing on the screen (in fact, if you were using the #macallan hashtag during dinner, you too were up on screen!) To take it even further, we had the opportunity to taste not only the New Make Spirit straight from the source before reaching casks… Macallan cask strength 18 year sherry oak… Macallan 50 year… and even Macallan 52 year. It was. WOW. And seeing the Lalique decanters and the carbon fiber (looking?) box it’s packaged in… as well as one of the 1000 unique Rankin bottles up close… all in all it was a beautiful experience, with fun people, delicious food, great conversations… now go see the many random photos on the next page for a peek at the experience!
Sure its 4am, but i couldn’t go to sleep before showing you the magic of the Macallan Ice Ball “Machine”. Did you know it runs on GRAVITY? Yes, high tech stuff… also the magical frictional heating of copper also comes in to play somehow just perfectly at room temperature. Really you stick a roughly right sized chunk of ice in between the two heavy pieces, and let gravity go to work on it. And with in moments ~ right before your eyes ~ it melts down to a perfectly glossy sphere. It’s magical really. This incredible device was discovered in japan (side note: where the macallan team also discovered japanese taking straight razors to carve perfect spheres of ice) ~ and they have exclusive rights to the device for a few years! I’m secretly wanting one to play with at home… See the pictures on the next page…
A winner has been notified... i'm waiting to hear back from him!
I know you've always wanted to throw some rocks in your favorite scotch. Chilled perfectly these Teroforma Whisky Rocks are handmade in Vermont out of soapstone will cool your drink down just enough to take the edge off without "closing down" the flavors according to the lovely ladies of Delight.com. In fact, they are even generous enough to GIVE AWAY ONE SET of these WHISKEY STONES! All you have to do is leave a comment with your favorite Scotch/Whisky... be specific! And i'll pick a winner on Monday Sept 14th.
As for the stones themselves, they come beautifully packaged, and were a lovely reason to pick up a bottle of the highly recommended Balvenie 21yr Portwood (omg. so delicious.) ~ while i wasn't sure whether they chilled it enough at first, i've been enlightened that "They do not replace ice - it would ruin the whisky or any other fine spirits to be taken down to a temp much lower than 45F." And the only dillemma i've run into ~ if you only get 9... and about 4 go in a glass... and you have a drink with a friend... and you want refills... you need more rocks! Right? Anyhow, go take a peek at the pics on the next page!
I'm learning to love twitter... at first it drove me insane, but now it connects me with incredible new people... and its been intriguing to see what people and brands are doing with it... latest fascinating (and seemingly awesomely successful) experiment comes from Macallan. Granted i'm biased, Macallan 18yr has been my favorite go to for a few years now (while cocktails are fun, its my default if available)... but what they set up is really pretty fun! Here's the setup: Macallan's brand ambassador @livingthedram (Graeme Russell) teamed up with the Michelin-starred chef Ed Brown of Eighty One in NY for the ultimate Macallan Tasting ~ all live tweeted and projected on the wall!!! And while i nearly moved my flight to make the dinner ~ but being twitter and all, they were kind enough to send samples over for me to taste along with them! Unfortunately my timing still sucked a little, but first thing i did when i got home was grab some food, and start catching up on the #macallan tweets - and taste along with them!
On the next page, check out some pictures of the event, the samples (so fun to see the color differences alongside one another!), and a selection of my favorite tweets (yes, i totally read my way backwards through the whole event to catch up!).
I have a soft spot for Scotch ~ especially when the packaging grabs me... Although the packaging redesign for Highland Park Single Malt Sotch Whisky happened in 2006, i was still curious enough to poke at their PR to show me the old bottles for comparison ~ and there's just something about the cleanliness of the design of the 30 and 40 year bottles and their wood boxes i'm loving. Don't the slight curvatures of the 40 year bottle remind you of the Ri(1) bottle? Well, only shorter and stouter, and with a much cooler label and silver "H" emblem ~ which apparently dates back to the Orkney's 12th-century Viking ancestry. Even the 30 year bottle is so clean, i love the transparent look with only the small paper labels covering the gorgeous color of the scotch in the glass bottle... As you'll see below, the packaging of the 18 and 25 year bottles are similar but have much larger labels, although on a similarly shaped bottle ~ they are however packaged in fun gloss black on matte black boxes! And you can see how they compare to their predecessors... Also noteworthy, it's nice to see a brand site dedicate a section to the thought that went into the redesign of the packaging! See close ups and more on the next page!
Great packaging + what can only be delicious single malt scotch = the most adorable hand written 20cL bottles of Old Malt Cask Advance Samples. I got launched into this scotch frenzy from The Dieline, which led me to Douglas Laing's Scotch Whiskies site... which led me not only to these minis, but to so many more beautifully packaged, fascinating single malts i'm now dying to try someday... see more on the next page!
About the minis. "Replicating the sample bottles sent to us from stock held at the Distilleries - these wee 20cl bottles appear to have been hand written by one of the team pulling the sample (full marks for legibility!). We select specific bottlings from the 700cl capacities and fill first about 150-200 of the 20cl bottles - so these are little "rarities" - small bottles, in small quantities, from a very small bottling, from a small family company. Fortunately Fred and Stewart are full size.
They do allow the consumer however to taste a small amount before investing in the larger bottle (for himself or a Club) and they are also causing quite a stir in the gift giving sector of the whisky business."