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Of tiger orchids and barley: Craft comes alive with The Balvenie at this multi-sensory exhibition

The Makers Project explores the “art” in artisanal with seven talents at ArtScience Museum.

Of tiger orchids and barley: Craft comes alive with The Balvenie at this multi-sensory exhibition
The Makers Project features installations of The Balvenie’s Five Rare Crafts alongside art exhibits in a collaboration with contemporary artists hailing from seven countries. Photos and video: The Balvenie

A bottle of the honey-coloured single malt scotch whisky from The Balvenie brings to mind many things: Deeply inquisitive discourses in the study. Pre-dinner catch-ups with treasured friends. A celebratory toast to good news.

But how does the golden spirit invoke such rich moments?

“Made by heart,” the folks at The Balvenie would say, drawing your attention to its heritage of dedicated craftsmanship led by its malt master David Stewart. After all, it’s the only distillery that still tends its own barley fields, uses traditional floor maltings, and keeps both coppersmiths and coppers on site.

As part of a global campaign celebrating its legacy, The Balvenie will unveil The Makers Project from Nov 26 to Dec 5 at ArtScience Museum in Singapore, with seven artists extolling the process of ultimate craftsmanship with their commissioned pieces.

RARE BLOOMS

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Summoning a botanical piece for Singapore, illustrator and artist Adeline Tan went retrospective and distilled the values of patience and perseverance from the country’s history in a painting titled The Tiger of Singapore.

“What inspired me most about the tiger orchid is that it takes its own time. It blooms only once every few years but when it does, it delivers,” shared the artist. “In a fast-paced world, it reminds me that it is okay to take more time to get things right.”

She could have been describing the spirit of craftsmanship at The Balvenie. Indeed, she admitted: “I enjoyed the stories behind The Balvenie’s range of expressions. The stories of the craftsmen and how they’ve poured their heart and passion into their craft have really inspired me.”

Adeline also holds malt master Stewart in high regard. “In this day and age where we are faced with a lot of distractions, it is inspiring to see how he’s remained focused solely on what he cares about. Just as he’s put years into honing his whisky nosing skills, I painted the tiger orchid as part of this collaboration because it, too, takes its time to grow and bloom.”

The final painting featuring the bloom is a lush, tropical piece, surrounded by an intricate paper orchid installation that invites the viewer into the magical world of dedication.

ARTISANAL ART

Six other artists join Adeline in displaying their take of craftsmanship at The Makers Project, creating pieces that speak of their technique, interpretation and home country.

This unfolds in many ways. Fern Chua’s Freedom and Fluidity displays the beauty of batik, set abloom with Malaysia’s national hibiscus flower and Rajah Brooke butterflies. Vu aka Caubetho presents a bold statement with his fantastical Mice Wedding – a folk story retold through classical Vietnamese art and pop culture in a media mash-up. Thailand’s Phannapast Taychamaythakool takes a pilgrimage to find “that special something”, in a piece given whimsy with Victorian elements.

Multi-disciplinary illustrator and designer Daryl Feril fuses polarising materials and methods together to present rare flora and fauna from the Philippines, while Diela Maharanie chooses the iconic dance form of the cendrawasih – or bird of paradise – to showcase Indonesia’s cultural art form. Graphic artist Yulia Brodskaya from the United Kingdom rounds up the series with Waves of Complexity, a precise handling of paper, swirled into a mesmerising piece.

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The artists mirror The Balvenie’s Five Rare Crafts, bringing to light the exceptional investments the brand makes as it moves from grain to bottle.

At every point of the journey, the distillery has kept the process on site – making it the last of its kind to do so. Keeping the single malt whisky truly handcrafted is a team of passionate craftsmen, dedicated to retain tradition to give The Balvenie its complex profile.

On the thousand-acre The Balvenie Mains, farmers tend to the barley amid the unpredictable Scottish weather. As one of the only few distilleries in the Scottish Highlands to operate a working floor maltings, the workers here spread and turn the barley by hand until it is ready for the kiln.  

In-house coppersmiths pass down their precise skills from master to apprentice, as they hammer copper sheets to make the ideal The Balvenie Ball shape, so important to achieving the honeyed taste of the whisky. From copper to casks, the coopers make the perfect barrels to hold the single malt and impart their distinctive character. These craftsmen are so seasoned, they can tell American oak from European just by feel.

And finally, malt master Stewart is the longest-serving in the Scotch whisky industry, with 54 years of experience. He brings to The Balvenie an exceptional nose and honed acumen that have resulted in multiple awards and accolades.

“At The Balvenie, we are continually striving to collaborate with like-minded people who share our passion to create, and our partnership with various makers across Southeast Asia is testament to this,” said Mr Brett Bayly, brand ambassador for The Balvenie Southeast Asia. “We hope that this specially curated exhibition will not only allow our guests to immerse themselves in the world of the brand and our five rare crafts, but also develop a new sense of whisky appreciation, and understand what it means to be ‘made by heart’.”

FEEL THE CRAFT IN YOUR SIP

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Through the imaginative art and immersive displays, The Balvenie wants visitors to deeply feel the stories and craft behind the single malt. For a fitting conclusion to satisfy all the senses, guests of The Makers Project are invited to a brand gallery where they can enjoy two drams of the spirit – The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old and The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old.

Be immersed in the process with The Makers Project at ArtScience Museum. Tickets available at S$28 and include two drams of The Balvenie. Quote CNA8OFF to enjoy S$8 off your ticket, limited to the first 100 redemptions.

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