National Museum of Scotland welcomes whisky display

The National Museum of Scotland has unveiled a new display inspired by the country’s admiration of contemporary whisky. 

The collection will also represent the importance of Scotland’s production of contemporary whisky, with the spirit being the UK’s largest food and drinks export, reaching 166 international markets.

museum of scotland

Credit: Mike McBey, Flickr

Read more on whisky export statistics here: Scotch whisky exports rise by £4.5b in 2021

What’s in the collection?

The exhibit will include bottles of rare contemporary whiskies, a backpack from a collaboration between the Isle of Jura Distillery and accessories brand Trakke, a 25ml measure created by Skye-based potter Katharina Lenz for Torabhaig Distiller and a pewter hip flask.

In total, there will be 14 pieces on display. Many of these are unique stand-alone pieces that have materials sourced from areas all over Scotland.

The idea behind the collection

The premise behind the display was to show how important this generation of whisky manufacturing is for those who will follow next. By collecting pieces from the Scottish Borders to the islands of the Inner Hebrides and Thurso, the most northern town on the British mainland they are showing the unity in the country that allows the current industry to thrive. It will also show the relationship between distilleries and Scottish makers.

Laura Scoobie, a doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh and the National Museum of Scotland, was the figure that pulled this idea together. She said she wanted it to “not only provide an insight into one of our leading industries but reveal a picture of Scotland in the early 21st century that will now be preserved for generations to come”.

Scoobie added, “I’m delighted to add such fascinating examples of material culture associated with contemporary Scottish whisky to the national collection, from actual bottles of whisky to surprising artistic responses from local makers.” 

Through her, the museum has acquired bottled whiskies, packaging and other material spanning more than a decade of production.

What’s unique about contemporary whisky?

Whisky brands in the 21st century are travelling in a new direction. Practices are, for the first time, shifting towards sustainability. This year alone, we have noticed that many large-scale investments in this industry, such as the £30 million for GlenDronach and £88 million for Aberlour and Miltonduff, will go towards making these distilleries more environmentally conscious and energy efficient. Therefore, the whisky of today is more than a spirit to drink, but it is a product that can be made sustainably.

Another feature unique to contemporary whisky is the one-of-a-kind artwork that’s becoming more prevalent on bottles and packaging. This can be seen with the bottle from Isle of Raasay Distillery, which is part of the 14-piece collection. The bottle in question is textured with fossil details from the region’s geological topography.

With the exhibit being open to the public, we look forward to seeing all the unique designs on display.

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