Since 1897 we have been combining soft mountain water with tender local barley, introducing it to tall copper stills and – following years of maturation in oak casks – collecting the mellow, fruity spirit. Approaching alchemy, the process reveals nature’s extraordinary elements in all their glory. Indeed – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water – elements central to civilisation’s most ancient philosophies, enjoy incredible synergies. Combined, they produce outcomes far greater than their sum.
This symbiosis – the ‘Five Virtues’ – is a concept synonymous with the age-old processes and materials employed by our distillery men. Water feeds wood; wood sustains fire; fire gives life to earth; earth yields metal; metal gathers water; and the cycle continues…
To celebrate the Five Virtues collection which launched in 2016, leading artist, Eva Ullrich, explored these interactions and their role in whisky production. The result is five striking artworks …and five unique expressions.
At first, Eva Ullrich’s work appears abstract – a series of colours placed on a page – yet, as is with whisky production, there is much more to her process of creation.
Ullrich uses “painting’s inherent language as a platform to create landscapes”. She is not an abstract artist, she is a landscape artist who embraces and is embraced by the rhythm of nature, which made her the perfect partner for this limited series. Each painting created for each expression is featured on the carton and label, showcasing the elements of each whisky.
The Five Virtues are five dynamic movements of energy. The series focuses on transformation, with strong marks running right through, shifting from one side of the canvas to the other. Ullrich let the process of painting unfold naturally.
Each element generates the next – the marks of the textured grain in wood blend intuitively into fire, warm colours evaporate into a glowing heat. Charred ash breaks down into earthy reds and greens using real earth pigments. The subtle green and purple layers in metal blend continuously into watery shapes with animated broken marks in water.