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anCnoc and Peter Arkle – A New Collaboration, A New Whisky

Peter Arkle 1st Edition anCnoc Whisky On April 18th, 2012 anCnoc launched their latest whisky creation – the Peter Arkle 1st Limited Edition – matured in ex-sherry casks (a first for anCnoc). For those that don’t know of Peter Arkle, chances are you’ve seen his work in publications like the Times magazine, The New Yorker, Mens Health and more. Peter is a world renowned illustrator, Scottish and a whisky lover – anCnoc hit the trifecta when looking for an artist to collaborate with!

Wanting to satisfy my curiosity as to how the collaboration came about I contacted with Gillian Gibson (global brand manager at anCnoc) and bombarded her with a host of questions. She was very accommodating and even roped in Gordon Bruce, anCnoc’s distillery manager, to answer a few of them.

anCnoc Peter Arkle 1st Edition – Quick Overview

Nose Rich and spicy fruit cake aromas are complemented by creamy vanilla and pronounced sticky toffee. The middle note of freshly picked green apples is accentuated by just a touch of blood orange zest. Complex and satisfying.
Colour Rich copper with amber highlights.
Taste Sun-dried raisins and honey explode on the palate, followed quickly by vanilla ice-cream with hot caramel sauce. The finish is round and long, on the dark side of the fruit.
Cask Type Matured in Spanish oak sherry butts.
Availability UK, USA, Sweden and selected European markets. Limited to 1000 cases (6000 bottles).

Before you read on, take a few minutes to watch the brilliant video on Peter’s visit to the Knockdu distillery – it gives you a real sense of the work that went into producing not only the new packaging, but the whisky itself.

[vimeo width=”600″ height=”338″][/vimeo]

Now it’s time for a game of 20 questions!

WTF: How was Peter Arkle selected for the series and who came up with the concept?
GG: The project started with a wish to create something exceptional for our drinkers. anCnoc is known for its longstanding support for the contemporary arts, creating a modern environment for drinking our whisky, and our striking monochromatic pack design. This project marries the two!

Peter’s Scottish roots, his love of fine whisky and his modern creative style honed by working at the cutting edge of New York’s design world made him a perfect fit. He accepted our invitation to spend some time at the Knockdhu Distillery in Huntly, getting to know how we do things and what makes anCnoc special. Inspired by the team, the beautiful surroundings and of course the wonderful whisky that is produced there, he put pen to paper.

Peter Arkle and his anCnoc Whisky

WTF: Did you have the concept first and then found the whisky to match? Or was it the other way around, whisky first and then find a concept to sell it?
GG: The concept came first, however without suitable liquid being available the concept would never have gotten off the ground.

WTF: How long did the entire process take, from coming up with the concept, to having the bottles being shipped out with Peter’s design on them?
GG: The initial concept was born in March 2011 and we officially partnered with Peter in late May/early June 2011. We met with Peter briefly in June 2011 while he was over here on holiday visiting his friends and family. He came back over in August 2011 and spent 3 days at the Distillery, immersing himself in the processes, the surroundings and the whisky!

We visited Peter in October 2011 at his New York studio where the final designs were selected and the product finally bottled on the April 2012 with the launch being held on 18th April 2012. Stock was available for dispatch from 19th April onwards.

Peter Arkle Hard at Work, Drawing Knockdhu Distillery

WTF: Where in the range does the Peter Arkle 1st Edition fit in? And will consecutive editions be a continuation of the sherried anCnocs, or something else entirely?
GG: The liquid again won’t carry an age statement but it will be entirely different liquid than what is in the first release.

WTF: Can you tell us a bit more about the next edition(s) that will be released?
GG: Although the illustrations on the packaging are unmistakeably Peter’s signature style, the design has a slightly more traditional feel to it in comparison to the more design-led packaging/illustrations on the first release.

WTF: The whisky doesn’t carry an age statement. Can you give us an indication as to its age?
GG: The liquid inside the bottles is predominately 6-10years old.

WTF: Gordon, in the video, you state that anCnoc has stuck with traditional whisky production methods, eschewing automation – can you give us examples of this?
GB: Mashing temperatures and volumes hand controlled, hard to beat a stir with a dip stick to ensure correct consistency. Manually added attemperating water gives a speedier temperature correction than actuated valves. Wash back setting volumes and temperatures hand controlled, work done generates heat in fermenters, better control of setting temperature by constantly checking as wash back fills.

Manually operated valves throughout the whole plant, every action is physically checked. Manually controlled steam valves on stills gives better control of wash still settling. Manual switch from fore shot to spirit, turn over only made once still man is happy with strength, temperature and more importantly clarity of spirit. The human eye and experience can react to things that density meters will not pick up. Most importantly the work force can feel that they are actually making the product rather than monitoring a computer driven process.

WTF: How important is maintaining the tradition to you?
GB: Very important, in some areas there is almost a feeling of let’s automate because we can. Concerned that we will lose skills that have been acquired and developed over the past hundred years. Worthwhile pointing out that I’m not a Luddite, happy to embrace technology where needed or where it can have a positive impact on the process.

WTF: Are there any other Inver House releases that you have lined up for the year?
GG: Yes! I have a 35yo launching this month as well as a Travel Retail Exclusive, also designed by Peter.

WTF: One random question that I have to ask – is the “pssst” sound we hear in the video in the bottling hall real? 🙂 It integrates so well with the music on the soundtrack.
GG: Absolutely! It’s the sound of the capsules being sealed.

anCnoc Ingredients - Barley, Water, Heat, Yeast, Time and MAGIC

Thanks to Gillian and Gordon for providing me with a peek behind the scenes as to how the Peter Arkle Limited Edition anCnoc range came into being. In Part 2 of the Peter Arkle / anCnoc story, I chat to the Peter himself and discover what went into creating the new packaging and his thoughts on the dram carrying his name.


1 Comment

  1. May 22, 2012    

    Very nice. i need to sample this one 😉
    i love AnCnocs and this sounds like a great one. soon. :0)

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