March 21st, 2013 – About a decade ago, somebody hit the fast forward button on the world and forgot to press play again. Our constant state of overdrive has borderline turned old world artistry into an endangered medium, leaving generations of arts and crafts lost. Adding a positive to that depressing intro, Jameson Irish Whiskey is one spirit maker who has placed a high value on their traditions since 1780. To parallel Jameson’s true-to-your-roots philosophy, the master blenders commissioned acclaimed glass engraver Dave Smith to dream up their limited edition 2013 St. Patrick’s Day bottle.
Keen to celebrate the pairing of their traditional Irish whiskey with Smith’s old world technique, Jameson invited KNSTRCT to hop on over to Dublin for a weekend of St. Patrick’s Day festivities, a tour of their original distillery, and to experience Smith’s work first hand. While there, the chilly weather made warming up in Dublin’s beloved Stag’s Head pub quite comforting, posing a perfect spot to watch Smith’s gold leafing demonstration. The artist was easily able to silence the room of spectators with his humble and collective demeanor, a manner well suited with his craft of choice.
The design of Jameson’s bottle was inspired by the intricate glass etching and ornate gilding synonymous with the décor of great Dublin pubs where Jameson has been enjoyed for generations. Smith began his process at the drawing board where he enjoys the freedom of using a pencil, this start ensures that the final product will avoid the appearance of coming from a production line. Pencil sketches soon manifest into an emerald etched bottle that consists of festive gold trumpets, green streamers, tiny little whiskey makers carrying barrels on their backs, and of course the classic Jameson lettering.
To achieve the desired black bar mirror look, which is frequently used in traditional pubs in Ireland, Smith explained that he used a reverse glass technique. This is a technique where gold and silver are hand painted onto the back of the glass. “Gold leaf is light, delicate, and very fragile. If you touch it, it will tear,” his connection with this material is undeniable, “nothing conveys as much impacts as gold leaf itself, especially applied in reverse. It has that dignity and richness, providing something that no other material can.”
Because of its fragile consistency, applying the gold is a very tedious process. This led Smith to design and develop a new handmade tool to lay the gold onto the glass, making it easier to apply. With a few tests, the artist noticed that with this new tool, even kids as young as five are able to apply the gold leaf. The joyous discovery opened up new doors for continuing the trade, as Smith is now able better to teach his three young daughters Hannah, Lauren, and Millie the old craft in his quest to pass on a dying art.
With Jameson’s Irish hospitality, you’re always in for a good time – but I didn’t know how good. The weekend itinerary included exotic cocktails at the Vintage Cocktail Club, A whiskey and cheese tasting at L Mulligan Grocer, checking out the Bombay Bicycle Club at the Jameson St. Patrick’s Day Live concert, and a proper whiskey tasting with Jameson’s 17-year distiller and chemist, Liam Donegan. Not on the weekend itinerary was a few awkward attempts at river dancing, learning how to strategically maneuver in and out of the smallest bar in Dublin, discovering that “mushy peas” is not guacamole, losing a passport, and thankfully, avoiding a naked sleepwalker – but we’ll leave those stories for a travel feature on St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin coming next week – hook. line. sinker.
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