In retrospect, we didn’t think much of it when we got invited for a road trip to Penang with Johnnie Walker® for the unveiling of its limited edition Blue Label™ Chinese New Year 2017 bottle back in November. But after the whole experience, the rationale behind the road trip only made perfect sense.
Known as the Pearl of the Orient, Penang is a melting pot of rich history, culture and quirks that are unique, and as much as it has evolved over the years, its exuberant Chinese heritage runs deep and retains. Further cementing that identity is its bestowed UNESCO World Heritage Site status, thanks to its various spots that date way back to the 18th century.
Another highlight in Penang that shapes its character is its thriving street art scene that has blossomed into becoming an attraction in itself which transcends across borders. One outstanding street artist who helped jump-start this movement is none other than Lithuanian Ernest “ZACH” Zacharevic, well-known for his idyllic murals scattered across Penang.
Fusing the two elements – culture and art – together, Johnnie Walker® upholded its legacy of artistic collaborations by teaming up with Zacharevic to launch limited edition Blue Label™ bottles in conjunction with the 2017 Chinese New Year celebrations, with only 4,000 bottles made available exclusively in Malaysia.
As Zacharevic’s love affair with Malaysia began during the Chinese New Year period, it was only fitting for him to create the four-face bottle design for Johnnie Walker® which depicts the traditional Chinese dragon dance performed by Chinese dancers, signifying togetherness, interpreted with a blend of traditional mediums and contemporary graffiti techniques.
Outlined by graffiti cans and spray caps that pays ode to street art, the dragon dance is rooted against a background showcasing emblematic buildings that connect the bridges between modernity and heritage – the KOMTAR tower, Penang’s tallest building and the ancient Kuan Yin temple. There is also a 2017 Rooster to mark the significance of the Chinese zodiac.
This complex artwork is then printed on the bottles through an innovative ink jet technology that allows for the look of a spray-painted piece with texture and intricacy. More than anything, the artwork pays homage to the tenacious Malaysian Chinese spirit of perseverance and persistence in preserving traditions. It resonates with the locals in a special way.
Synonymous to the sophisticated artwork, the Johnnie Walker® Blue Label™ ultra-premium Scotch whisky is extremely rare as only one in every 10 thousand casks display this elusive flavour and refined individuality that makes the whisky so distinctive, offering a remarkable signature taste.
Thanks Johnnie Walker for the memorable camaraderie, street art tour via trishaws, unmistakably delicious culinary delights and exquisite whisky! It was indeed an enriching experience that offered us with an unconventional insight into this charming land we Malaysians love so much.