Museum preserves story of thriving 21st century whisky industry

National Museums Scotland has acquired a collection of bottled whiskies, packaging and related material as part of a new collection.

20 May 2022

The story of Scotland’s thriving whisky industry will be preserved for generations to come as a museum reveals its new collection of contemporary items.

National Museums Scotland has acquired a range of bottled whiskies, packaging and related material which span more than a decade of production, curators revealed ahead of World Whisky Day on Saturday.

Laura Scobie, doctorial researcher at the University of Edinburgh and National Museums Scotland, said the items “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”.

Whisky is a symbol of Scottish heritage and culture, and as the largest food and drink export it reaches 166 markets across the world.

In recent years the industry has undergone a period of growth and reinvention, with dozens of distilleries opening for production since the turn of the century.

The collection of 14 objects will show the thriving industry of the 21st century the length and breadth of Scotland, from the Scottish Borders to the islands of the Inner Hebrides and Thurso, the most northern town on the British mainland.

Laura Scobie with a backpack issued by the Isle of Jura Distillery and accessories brand Trakke (National Museums Scotland/PA)

Ms Scobie said: “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.”

Today’s industry exists against a backdrop of environmental concern and demand for greater sustainability.

As well as improvements in sustainable production and practice, many new distilleries are building brand identities that embrace the nature and landscape that surround them.

A bottle acquired for the collection from Isle of Raasay Distillery is textured with fossil details from the region’s geological topography.

Torabhaig Distillery’s Allt Gleann single malt, named after one of the burns that provide the distillery with spring water, has also been added to the collection.

National Museums Scotland said the collection also considers the relationship between distilleries and Scottish makers.

A 25ml measure created by Skye-based potter Katharina Lenz for Torabhaig Distillery shows the ways in which the island’s creative community is stimulated and supported by the local whisky industry, curators said.

A backpack from a collaboration between the Isle of Jura Distillery and accessories brand Trakke will also be preserved in the collection.

It was produced in Glasgow with materials sourced from across Scotland, including waxed cotton from Dundee that has been dyed with lichen native to Jura.

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