Pat's Whisk(e)y Collection, the world's largest private whisky collection to come to auction, features over 400 expressions from That Boutique-y Whisky Company. You can view this article in our newly designed Comic Magazine, or read the content in article-form below.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company followed in the now grand tradition set out by the Italian brands of the 1980s, of a non-Scottish independent bottler using unique label designs to connect with, reinterpret, and stamp their own personality on whisky, a spirit with inalienable roots in other places, but no less ingrained in their own culture.
The instantly recognisable graphic novel-style liveries with their trademark industry inside jokes prompt as much musing over the labels as the whiskies themselves, and couple a playful affection for the subject alongside an incredible knowledge and understanding of it.
These characteristics are further evidenced by the company’s forward-thinking approach, which regularly sees them among the first to promote new distilleries and unusual whisky styles, cementing their place among the most important brands of the modern era.
Joe Wilson, Head of Auction Content
Who Is That Boutique-y Whisky Company?
Established in 2012, That Boutique-y Whisky Company is an independent bottler and subsidiary of the Atom Group in Kent, England. The releases within their hugely expansive catalogue, covering whiskies from all over the world, are most notable for their comic book style graphic labels.
Although their labels may seem like a lot of fun, they are very serious about the whisky. Liquid quality is absolutely paramount for That Boutique-y Whisky Company and it won’t be bottled unless they are completely happy with it. This benchmark of quality has built them an army of loyal and raving fans around the world with their products becoming highly anticipated and difficult to get your hands on.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company are perhaps most highly regarded for the diversity of their bottling library, featuring a range of innovative craft distillers from around the world and giving a platform to the newest distilleries from near and far.
They have bottled whiskies from all over the world, including New Zealand, India, South Africa, Germany, Switzerland, Taiwan and Israel to name a few. Their collection boasts a particularly impressive of gallery of American bourbons, ryes and corn whiskeys.
Traditionally, That Boutique-y Whisky Company did not promote age statements on their labels, however, this all changed in April 2016. In support of Compass Box’s campaign for Scotch whisky transparency, they have committed not only to introducing age statements (which present the age of the youngest component), but to list the breakdown of the various whiskies that make up each bottling as soon as the campaign is successful and legislation allows it.
The designer behind these kitsch bottles is Emily Chappell, a freelance illustrator based in Glasgow. Her illustrations draw from Surrealism to inspire an extraordinary creative vision with a breath of humanity and warmth.
According to an interview with Emily, her favourite part of designing labels for That Boutique-y Whisky Company is the research – discovering distillery folklore, hunting out old labels and exploring the quirks in whisky history and stories. Every label is drawn by hand, with colour added digitally. The library of resultant whisky labels are as spirited as the whiskies they contain, reflecting the long and vibrant stylistic history of this art style.
Highlights from Pat's Grand Finale
Karuizawa is one of the rarest whiskies in the world. Just like many paintings only appreciated after their artist’s death, only after the stills were stopped did Karuizawa rise to stardom. That Boutique-y Whisky Company have bottled three batches from the closed Japanese distillery. Their action-packed label features the portrayal of Toby Cutler escaping assassins in the original Karuizawa distillery.
Pat’s Grand Finale features the very first batch, which was limited to 186 bottles.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company have bottled over 25 batches from landmark Speysider, The Macallan. On the label of The Macallan, there’s a man looking at the distillery’s famously marketed “Curiously Small Stills”.
Pat’s Grand Finale features 14 That Boutique-y Whisky Company releases, including Batch #1 and two rare 30 Year Old expressions (Batch #7 and #16).
That Boutique-y Whisky Company have bottled eight batches from Islay’s legendary closed distillery, Port Ellen. Their label features an illustration of Fiddler’s Whisky Bar proprietor Jon Beach. He is one of the world’s most avid Port Ellen collectors and here he is holding sherbet lemons and chamois leather, two very familiar Port Ellen tasting notes.
Pat’s Grand Finale features both the first and last batch of Port Ellen, both bottled at 33 years of age and limited to only 25 and 15 bottles respectively.
We got in touch with Jon Beach, to ask him a few more questions as to how exactly he ended up featuring on the label:
I befriended a couple of chaps from Master of Malt back at the 2011 Feis Ile when I did a Port Ellen tasting of the annual releases 1-10 in the old Port Ellen filling store. Shortly after this MofM launched their new independent bottling label (TBWC) and I featured on the Port Ellen label. TBWC was launched at the (2012?) Maltstock with me featuring on one of the first batch of releases.
And there's a lot going on in the illustration, can you let us in on any of the details?
The label was based on a photograph of me taken in my back garden which was then used by the excellent Glasgow-based artist Emily Chappell. Over the following few years I did more charity Port Ellen tastings during Feis Ile with little features like seals, people and a boat appearing on the label which are references to things that happened at each (eventful) event which Master of Malt attended.
What drew you to collecting Port Ellen and becoming such a passionate enthusiast?
I’ve always loved peated Islay malts and Lagavulin in particular but once I was introduced to Port Ellen I new instantly it was for me. There’s also the added bonus that my mother is called Ellen.
Funfact! The label on the #1 bottle is illegal according to the SWA due to the size of the “Port Ellen” lettering. Subsequent bottles have the correct sized lettering.