The making of
By Jon Purcell
To get a real understanding of the essence of whisky, I journeyed to its birthplace and from there took a leisurely circuitous route delving the annals of its history, discovering where and how it is produced, and by whom, photographing the scenes that grabbed my eye and fired my imagination along the way.
This legendary ancient spirit has touched the lives and warmed the hearts of many across the centuries. Royalty has championed its virtues, the church who were responsible for its inception have at times, opposed its consumption. Fortunes have been made, lost, and made again, acts of parliament have shaped its very taste and distribution. There was even a thirteen year period in the USA where making or drinking it would have landed you in jail.
In photography, the process of light falling on form is what the camera records, but the joy of a photograph is it can inform the viewer in a multitude of ways. I wanted to exploit the medium to the maximum and convey the soul and psyche of the spirit.
On my return, I teamed up the renowned designer Richard Bassett of StudioMono, our combined brief was to develop the very best way to present this fascinating visual odyssey.
The journey begins
In this fast-paced world, we purposely wanted to slow our reader down. We wanted the book to be appreciated in the same way as a fine whisky. We hoped they might indeed sometimes be enjoyed together, the contents and ingredients of both complementing each other.
To capture the vastness of some scenes and the detail of others, a new and innovative binding technique was utilised, which allows the pages when opened to lay flat. Traditionally book's pages are separate individual sheets, which when brought together have a gutter separating them. The more pages, the deeper the gutter, the deeper the gutter, the more information that gets lost. Doing away with this old technology allows seamless spreads across one sheet, making for an altogether more cinematic viewing experience, and also freeing up more uninterrupted space for innovative typographic design.
Richard’s inspiration for the typography came from the traditional, often massive, hand-painted, block lettering that adorns many distilleries exteriors to this day. The flamboyant body copy's creative catalyst was the typefaces used down the centuries on whisky bottle and packaging design.
We knew we wanted the ‘feel’ of the books to complement their look, to that end, we decided to use only the highest quality materials. A vellum based paper, with a high cotton content, was chosen to give a subtle textured base to the photographs, reminiscent of traditional fibre based monochrome photographic printing paper. To heighten the tactile experience, high-quality leathers and suedes were specified for the covers and cases. Gilded finishes with contrasting ribbons combine to give a truly luxurious feeling.
To offer a broader choice, we decided to produce two editions, the Black Edition, with its contemporary look and feel, is limited to 1000 hand-numbered copies. The opulent leather cover with copper foiled graphics is redolent of decadent, fine whisky packaging.
For our flagship publication, we were keen to incorporate the elemental material that has given a little of itself to all the whisky that has ever been distilled, pure copper. The lustrous Copper Edition's title graphics evoke the debossed characters of manufacturers’ names, seen on stills and spirt safes around the world. The gilded copper pages add to the book's iconic sculptural presence. Only 250 of the hand-numbered Copper Edition will ever be released, guaranteeing it true collectors stature.
The Art In Whisky is the first of many projects to come, all with the same ultimate goal of conveying the true essence of something unique, to you, our passionate readers.
Our promise: whatever our future endeavours may be, the input will always be authenticity, and the output will always be luxury.
From the gentle charcoal-filtered purity of a white to the oak-aged spice of a dark, rum is one of the world's finest and most popular spirits. This volume will capture the ambience of the Caribbean, its rich history and culture as it searches to seek out its essence.
This future publication will offer a rare glimpse into the creation of Mexico’s famed native spirit. With a history that can be traced back to the Maya’s and Aztec’s, this fermented beverage preceded the European colonisation of Latin America by hundreds of years.
The story of bourbon is a tale of American innovation, industry, and expertise. Join photographer Jon Purcell on a stunning visual journey from farmstead to bottle and bar, evoking the heritage and tradition of this fine craft.