Shanghai-born, London-based illustrator Shan Jiang has collaborated with Johnnie Walker Blue Label to create a bespoke bottle and packaging that celebrates the rare side of Malaysia, specifically, Penang Island. The uniquely talented artist, who also runs a scarf brand with his wife, is more than qualified for this unusual assignment as his work is strongly influenced by his home city of Shanghai and its contrasting ideals — skyscrapers that sit alongside bungalows, contemporary concepts and traditional superstitions, communist ideology and flourishing subcultures.
For the new Johnnie Walker Blue Label pack, Jiang drew his inspiration from the rare character of the historic state of Penang, which showcases a rich blend of local cultures. In particular, he has drawn on the Oriental influences that colour this vibrant and colourful metropolis — imagery like the clan houses in George Town as well as the larger houses of worship in other parts of the island are brought to life by his artwork, which includes elements of Chinese Meticulous Art, Ukiyo-e, Bauhaus design, Durer, manga and anime.
The majestic Dragon Dance, which is recognised as an emblem of Penang and depicts strength and elegance, is featured prominently on the three facets of Johnnie Walker’s iconic square bottles. Penang’s iconic Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, represents the architectural beauty of the island while the striking red lanterns serve as a cultural icon to embody the generations of ethnic Chinese who have made this island home.
Only one in 10,000 casks of perfectly aged rare whiskies maturing in Johnnie Walker’s reserves has the quality, character and flavour to make it a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. It is intricately crafted in small batches by master blender Jim Beveridge and his team of 12 expert whisky masters who, between them, have over 150 years of experience. These rare whiskies, including some from distilleries that have long since closed, deliver a symphony of flavours, with notes of honeyed sweetness, dried fruits and perfectly balanced smoke. There is an unrivalled depth of character in every bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, which was first created in 1992.
This is a whisky with versatile flavours — hazelnut, honey, sherry and orange tumble in first before releasing hidden secrets like ginger, kumquat, sandalwood and dark chocolate. A rich honey sweetness emerges, accompanied by hints of pepper and dried fruits, before an impossible long, lingering and smooth finish of perfectly balanced soft smoke. Johnnie Walker Blue Label embodies the time and skill that goes into all Johnnie Walker whiskies and is best shared with the people who matter most, on the journey you make together.
The Johnnie Walker Blue Label limited edition Penang is available at participating outlets at Aeon, Jaya Grocer and online at staythirsty.com.my.