We were ushered into a dark hall, spotted with panels. Dim lights slowly illuminated to reveal models who moved inch by inch as the lights began to shift. So still, almost like mannequins, they played a waiting game behind screens dressed head to toe in Thom Browne clothing that looked transplanted from a time removed.
Every aspect of the set-up focused on an element of time, which is what governed Klein’s thought process when shooting for the collaborative effort. A clock projected onto a film of mist was the curtain that led us into a space, plunged in red light, as we watched a countdown clock tick steadily to zero. Underscoring it all was the anticipation of seeing the Masters of Photography box set with our own eyes, after being teased all week with Klein’s pictures of the Rare Cask.
“There’s this moment Klein spoke of, when I met him,” said Ken Grier, the creative director of The Macallan. “When you have a great glass of whisky in your hand, and you just want time to stop. You want to suspend time. So we had the idea of working with still moments, to explore the important element of time in the craft of whisky.”
When the countdown reached zero, a behemoth of a trunk appeared suddenly on stage, opening slowly to reveal the stunning black box set. Inside, elements of Klein and The Macallan harmoniously reigned.
A signed print from the legendary photographer provided the only burst of colour to catch the eye, but it was the limited edition Steven Klein whisky that truly stole the show. Housed in a black bottle, the whisky inside is a peaty, smoky and unusual whisky so different from The Macallan’s typically sweet or spicy offerings. Master Whisky Maker Bob Dalgarno used ex-Rioja wine casks for the first time, as well as rare, peated whiskies from the ’40s to create a deep, layered expression.
“The nose is fresh berries, and it goes on to some chalkiness, before coming to a scent that smells something like an old library. When you taste it, it’s very interesting. You get some smoke up front, but it’s not overwhelming. There’s some peat, ginger, cinnamon, and orange. It’s just a complex drinking experience,” explained Grier.
Also inside the trunk is a horse head bottle stopper, hailing Klein’s equestrian passion and a number of apparatuses to heighten one’s appreciation of the whisky. These were inspired by the tools used by the Roca brothers of El Celler de Can Roca when crafting The Macallan Edition 2, except in matte black, of course. Accompanying the instruments is a dedicated recipe book, created in collaboration with the Roca Brothers to help one maximise his or her sensorial journey with the special edition whisky. All in all, the box set weighs a hefty 20kg.
There are only 1,000 of them in the world, with 30 in Singapore. The demand has been so intense that these boxes sold out prior to the launch event, but there are still a number available in other countries for you to get your hands on.
Highly prized, rare whiskies are one thing, but this edition of The Macallan Masters of Photography has shown us that the Speyside distillery constantly ups the creative ante far beyond its counterparts. That, in itself, is a well-honed craft that is as impressive as making top-shelf whiskies.