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The Bottle, The Hero

Discover the unseen lengths behind our stunning new imagery.

The Bottle, The Hero

When Glenmorangie set out to create new advertising, we put a true Scottish icon at the centre: a bottle of Glenmorangie Original (the standard bearer for all other Glenmorangie whiskies and, in fact, Scotland’s favourite single malt). Its elegant lines take centre stage, its golden contents bathing everything else in light. It’s a great image, but as with all great things, it’s the unseen lengths behind the scenes that make the difference.

A woodcarver has spent over 120 hours working a piece of beautiful oak with chisels which are 200 years old. A sculptor has toiled with molten copper and dangerously high temperatures. A celebrated French photographer has laboured ‘pour l’amour de l’art’, he tells us. And arguably it all started more than 1200 years ago when the Picts, the ‘painted people’ of Northern Scotland, created the Cadboll Stone, one of Europe’s most important historical artefacts. What’s going on? Surely it’s only advertising…

Yet at Glenmorangie we believe that all we do should be Unnecessarily Well Made. Most obviously that applies to our award winning whiskies. But it applies here too.

In the final images the bottle sits in front of the Signet, Glenmorangie’s unique emblem which is the kaleidoscopic swirling pattern from the lower panel of The Cadboll Stone. It once stood close to the Glenmorangie Distillery in the far flung Scottish Highlands. A local artist was commissioned to recreate the stone by hand with a hammer and chisel and it stands there today, the original being safely housed in The National Museum of Scotland.

In one advert the Signet is crafted in copper, hinting at the story of our stills, the tallest in Scotland which produce the purest spirit. The copper Signet was created by Pierre Matter, a uniquely brilliant sculptor whose work can be seen in some of the greatest galleries worldwide. He relished the “colossal technical challenge” posed by the commission.

"I knew it would be difficult, highly testing. But that’s the reward: to overcome those trials and produce something to be proud of." he says.

“I’ve been using copper now for more than 20 years. Most of the guys in Europe who use this material are gone I’m afraid to say. We use ancient skills but they’re called upon less and less. In the 15th century it would have been perhaps possible to create this Signet piece in hammered copper, but not really now. So we went for another technique which means cast bronze. It’s a long process, even just the first mouldings, the sand casts for the foundry. The hardest aspect? That’s the electrolysis, applying the heat to create the same colour as the whisky stills. That’s a tense moment. The colours change fast and we must stop at the precise moment. If it fails we begin again…"

“You have to learn something every day. I learn through my artistic endeavours, the effort I put in. Human beings are unfinished. If you don’t learn something every day, do your best and more, then what’s the point?” he wonders.

In a second execution the bottle stands in front of the Signet crafted in oak, reminding us of our commitment to seeking out the best wood for our casks, how we use them imaginatively and only ever twice on our flagship expression, Glenmorangie Original. Ian Agrell, a master carver, one of only 40 in the world, created our emblem in oak, an immense and time-consuming effort, doing everything by hand.

“Machine carving is awful, limiting the design, cheapening the finished product. For a skilled craftsman working by hand will always produce the best result. That’s why I like the Glenmorangie mind-set. Outsiders might wonder how or why you did something so well. And Glenmorangie might say because that’s what we do.

“There’s so much in this world that people just gloss over” he says. “But what’s the point in doing bad work when we’re here for such a short time? Even though some won’t appreciate it, to go that extra mile is what we’re here for. It makes our existence relevant.”

It was Olivier Arnaud, one of the world’s leading still-life advertising photographers, who would ultimately shoot the results. He presents the whisky heroically, centrally, because Glenmorangie Original is at the centre of all we do, its DNA found in even our rarest expressions.

“In creating the shots the challenge was to make the two images – the bottle and the artwork behind it – work together, neither dominating,” he says. “It’s not just a picture of a bottle or a picture of a piece of wood or copper. The two had to merge to work together in terms of light, in terms of emotion.”

Working with us, Olivier had the opportunity to go to Scotland:

“The landscape in Scotland, the light, really influenced me. In fact, for me, in this image, there’s all the light of Scotland. The light’s full of contrast. It’s always changing and it’s also very charged with emotion and with significance. When you taste whisky I think you get all that. It’s the sea, the land, the water, the rain, everything. It’s all combined there in the bottle. It’s incredible.

“I came to very much like the Glenmorangie culture, the idea that things should be Unnecessarily Well Made. To me the best translation of this is ‘pour l’amour de l’art,’ for the love of art. It’s what you do but it’s not necessarily visible. It’s that little thing that makes it tip over into something else. You do something. You give it everything and it acquires another dimension. All my work is based around that guiding principle: pour l’amour de l’art.”

It’s been a process, you might say… But the finished shots are stunning, deceptively simple but alive with those unseen lengths from behind the scenes. And just in case you’re a casual observer who hasn’t had a chance to take all that in, the strapline reads simply, UNNECESSARILY WELL MADE. That’s in the spirit of everything we do at Glenmorangie and it’s all there in the picture.