For better or worse, there’s an image conjured by luxury whisky. The hazy smoking den littered with older gentlemen, cigar in hand has for long been the go-to aesthetic associated with the golden stuff, but Glenfiddich is turning the tide. In a collaboration somewhere out of left field, the world’s most awarded single malt Scotch whisky has teamed up with sneaker artesian Chase Shiel for blacked-out high-top that celebrates its premier release, Grand Cru. And much like the drop itself, it’s ambitious.
According to Glenfiddich, the new luxury sneaker is inspired by the journey Grand Cru makes from barrel to bottle. The exclusive whisky is matured for 23 years and elegantly finished in rare French cuvée oak casks, making it one of the most innovative releases in the Glenfiddich portfolio. To mark its release, Shiel has crafted 23 pairs of the ‘Glenfiddich Grand Cru XXIII’, a reference to the maturation time.
While it might seem like a strange pairing, the new collab marks an important milestone for the whisky vertical. The category has undergone a major revamp in recent years, as young drinkers become more category conscious and socially aware.
According to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, in 2015, around 22 per cent of American Scotch whisky drinkers were aged over 65, making them the largest age demographic for the category. But by 2018, the tables had turned, with those aged between 25 and 34 now the biggest age group among Scotch consumers in the US. Put the change in personas into perspective and all of a sudden, dropping a fresh pair of kicks to celebrate a top-shelf whisky doesn’t seem so crazy.
“The pairing of sneakers with whisky is very contrary to traditional whisky imagery, and that’s exactly why we did it,” Glenfiddich brand ambassador Ross Blainey said. “Our partnership with Chase reflects Glenfiddich’s desire to push boundaries in how people perceive and enjoy whisky. We’re launching more than just a boundary pushing whisky in Grand Cru, we’re connecting with a lifestyle.”
The Scotch producer has confirmed that a limited number of the custom art pieces will be available to the public for purchase via its official website. The sneakers set to drop on Friday, 15 October, at 10 AM AEDT with a link to be provided on the @glenfiddichwhiskyau Instagram. Best of all, 100 per cent of proceeds from the sale donated to charity.
“When I designed the custom sneaker…I focused on the senses of touch, sight and smell to reflect its luxurious nature,” Shiel explained. “Through touch, the smooth and supple black nubuck against the aged diesel black leather. Through sight, we can see the perforated black leather with hints of gold shining through the toe box, collar and tongue, bronzed insoles and a gold embroidered explosion noting Grand Cru’s occasion of celebration. And finally, smell. By using only the best materials I can deliver that distinct aroma that only comes from high-quality leathers.”
The new ‘Glenfiddich Grand Cru XXIII’ isn’t the only sneaker on offer, however. Glenfiddich has revealed that you can also work directly with Shiel to create a customised, premium sneaker that represents a personal moment of your own. ‘The Grand Cru Experience’ is designed to ensure your significant life moments are celebrated in style, with each pair accompanied by a bottle of Grand Cru and two smoke grey crystal coupette glasses to toast the occasion.
“There’s a lot of similarities between sneaker and whisky collecting, as they’re both functional pieces of artwork,” Blainey explained. “Unlike a painting or sculpture that is created for display, you have to decide on how you want to enjoy your sneaker or whisky. Do you showcase it to everyone and keep it forever, or do you use it every day to experience its core purpose but know that it will eventually run its course. That emotional decision forges a real connection to that piece, whatever you decide.”
More information on the new ‘Glenfiddich Grand Cru XXIII’ sneaker and the Grand Cru Experience is set to drop soon, but for now, we can marvel at the first images. For those looking to taste the connection, Glenfiddich Grand Cru is available in luxury whisky retail outlets and premium establishments for the cool price of AUD$395.