featured 09, Mar 2021 03:36pm
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Fabergé X The Craft Irish Whiskey

Inspired by The Seven Wonders of Ireland, the Craft Irish Whiskey unveils the limited edition 'Emerald Isle' Collectable Whiskey. Each set is accompanied with a first Fabergé Celtic Egg objet along with a collection of seven-one-of-a-kind bespoke timepieces created to commemorate this special occasion. Read on for the full story:

Presented in a beautiful dark walnut experience box, the Craft Irish Whiskey “The Emerald Isle Collection” consists of a seven-piece custom-made whiskey that celebrates the “Seven Wonders of Ireland”. In addition to this, The Craft Irish Whiskey Co. (CIWC) has collaborated with Fabergé, the world’s most iconic artist-jeweller, to accompany the whiskey set with two unique and exclusive creations; a first of its kind Celtic Egg objet and a bespoke Altruist limited edition timepiece. Apart from the above two, the set also includes a humidor with two ultra-rare Cohiba Siglo VI Grand Reserva cigars, a gold-plated cigar cutter, gold plated water pipette, pure obsidian whiskey stones, a hip flask with a sample of the Emerald Isle whiskey, which is the rarest Irish whiskey in existence, and a carafe filled with Irish spring water from the same region where the whiskey was made.

“The Emerald Isle Collection” is a perfect example of the fusion between Fabergé's unique history and heritage combined with the rich Irish tradition and mythology. From the distinctive flavour of the ultra-rare whiskey to the design codes of the bespoke timepiece, both the brands infuse the entire set with their respective brand values, design codes and historical know-how. The whiskey set and the timepiece are both inspired by the “Seven Wonders of Ireland” which includes the historical and important places in Ireland.

We got in touch with Jay Bradeley, CEO of Craft Irish Whiskey Co. and Josina von dem Bussche-Kessel, Global Sales Director for Fabergé to explain the iconic collaboration and its various features.

WTI: How did the collaboration happen?

JB: To launch The Emerald Isle, we wanted to partner with a luxury jewellery brand to create a unique collectable item for whiskey lovers and investors. As the most iconic artist jeweller and with access to the largest emerald mine in the world, we felt that Fabergé would be the perfect partner to showcase and complement The Craft Irish Whiskey Co.’s Irish heritage and tradition, along with Fabergé’s legacy of creating unique and collectable objects. The result is a one-of-a-kind whiskey and luxury experience, which marries Fabergé’s heritage with the symbolically rich narrative of the natural and mythological isle of Ireland.

JBK: This has been well over a year in the making. When they were explaining to us their discovery (of a rare whiskey), we knew they were onto something special.The founders had a huge appreciation of Fabergé too and we knew we had to work together in some way. After several talks and meetings, it became clear that this was going to be a couture project to match the rarity of the whiskey. As such the process became very detailed and lengthy in finding the perfect designs, which would perfectly mirror the quality and nature of this rare whiskey, and the founders’ vision for their company with that of Fabergé’s renowned history of client commissions.

Ultimately, to achieve the most optimal outcome we focused on the intersection between the two brands’ design principles, aesthetics and DNA. Defining these and finding the common denominators, is how a partnership slowly evolves to a perfect point of maximum synergy.

WTI: The ‘Emerald Isle’ Collectable Whiskey Set is inspired by the Seven Wonders of Ireland, could you tell us a little about that? How did that idea come about?

JB: The Fabergé design team worked closely with Tiago Russo, Design Director at The Craft Irish Whiskey Co., to conceptualise ‘The Emerald Isle Collection’. We took Ireland as the primary inspiration for the collection, selecting our own ‘Seven Wonders’ of Ireland to create the first ever Celtic Fabergé eggs, which are included within each experience box. The Emerald Isle is the oldest and rarest whiskey in the world and is a celebration of Ireland’s whiskey heritage, which dates back to the 14th century. For many years Scotland has dominated the sector through the sheer breadth and depth of its offering, but with the Emerald Isle, we are looking to redefine global perceptions of Irish whiskey.

Seven iconic places in Ireland were chosen by Tiago as the inspiration for the colours and custom details used for the The Emerald Isle Collection. These ‘Seven Wonders’ of Ireland were chosen for their historical and mythological significance. Each place is represented by different gemstones on each egg’s exterior: emerald, blue sapphire, ruby, amethyst, rhodolite, spessartite or tourmaline, symbolising each of the seven locations – from  The Blarney Stone to the Giant’s Causeway.

WTI: There is one Fabergé Celtic Egg that accompanies one whiskey, how did you ensure that the design aesthetic of the egg was in tandem to the Whiskey set?

JBK: Yes, this was very much the desire of the CICW owners to have a bespoke Fabergé egg objet to complement the rarity of the whiskey. As we’d never crafted a Fabergé Celtic egg, this was the perfect moment to birth it!

Each bottle of whisky is accompanied by a bespoke unique Fabergé Celtic Egg, handcrafted by fourth-generation enamelling Fabergé Workmaster, Dr. Marcus Mohr. Every component of this marvellous objet d’art is crafted entirely by hand. Each of the seven beautiful egg objets took over 100 work hours to make. It was vital that close contact was kept with The Craft Irish Whiskey Co. to ensure each objet epitomised this very special project and their passion for Ireland.

A variety of specialists were required from Dr. Mohr’s team of craftspeople to achieve the vision, including a goldsmith, metal spinner, gem and diamond setter, gemstone carver/polisher, engine tuner (for the guilloché detail), model maker (for the Celtic knots, mounting and middle ring), polisher and an enameler.

Each egg is handcrafted from 18k yellow gold and features Fabergé’s legendary guilloché vitreous enamel in a pastel green; the green, white and gold colours of the egg symbolise the Irish flag. Guilloché enamelling is a time-honoured technique which combines the ornamental art of engraving using an engine-turning machine technique, combined with vitreous enamel which is hand-painted onto a surface in a series of layers and bonded via heat of 900 degrees centigrade. It can take up to five layers and five firings in the kiln to create the desired effect, which has the illusion of shimmering liquid silk.The exteriors of the seven unique eggs are adorned with a pavé Celtic knot, set with 104 brilliant-cut diamonds, a renowned symbol of Irish heritage which has no start or finish, representing eternity, love and friendship. This symbol frames a coloured gemstone at its centre. Each of the seven Fabergé eggs features a different gemstone on its exterior: emerald, blue sapphire, ruby, amethyst, rhodolite, spessartite or tourmaline, representing each of the seven locations, from The Blarney Stone to the Giant’s Causeway, and its rich Irish mythology. A matching cabochon coloured gemstone is also set on top of the egg, which itself is mounted on a hand-carved rock crystal plinth with gold base. The Celtic knot motif is also echoed within the mounting of a surprise hidden within the egg.

The pedestal that the objet sits on is made of rock crystal which has been hand cut and polished from one rock. This element was crafted in the German city of Idar-Oberstein, a place world-renowned for coloured gemstone cutting over the last two centuries, by a master stone engraver who has worked for Fabergé for more than two decades. The gold frame on the bottom of the pedestal has been hand mounted from gold sheet and 32 additional diamonds have been set on the gold ring joining the pedestal and egg. Celebrating the unique nature of each egg objet, you will find the Fabergé hallmark on the rim of the base, accompanied by the individual number and coordinates of the ‘wonder’ it is dedicated to.

In true Fabergé spirit, a surprise awaits inside in the form of a rough, uncut emerald sourced from Gemfields’ Kagem mine in Zambia, presented on a gold guilloché base with intricate claw setting, set atop a guilloché engraved gold disk. This is the first time in Fabergé’s history that the Maison has featured a surprise of this kind before. It invites collectors to further customise the creation by requesting that Fabergé converts the beautiful rough emerald as part of a bespoke set or piece of jewellery. Part of the reason of wanting to use a rough, uncut Gemfields emerald was to reflect the raw beauty of Ireland but it was also the CIWC’s founding team’s strong desire to have something entirely unique as part of the surprise. It was a challenge but well worth the struggle, as we could not be more delighted with the outcome. It is also a beautiful legacy angle to see the rough uncut gem, one day be crafted into a stunning Fabergé piece of bespoke to live on outside of the egg.

WTI: What was the idea behind adding a watch to the set?

JBK: An important aspect of any bespoke creation is the subject of time in all of its facets. Everything from taking the time to make the right selection of gemstones, to going through the almost endless steps of design and creation of bringing a piece from inception to final iteration is related to time. We also wanted the future buyer of each box to also be able to have a wearable piece to remind them of their timeless investment. Our proudest history at Fabergé reflects a trilogy of objet d’art, jewellery and watches and we are very pleased that we’ve been able to include all three in this beautiful partnership.

WTI: Can you tell us a little about the design of the watch and what inspired it?

JBK: Each unique dial, inspired by one of the ‘Seven Wonders of Ireland’ has been crafted by Fabergé’s Workmaster – André Martinez – a specialist in decorating watch dials . Each dial showcases the hand-drawn map of its corresponding ‘seven wonders’. The crystal case backs on each piece are dedicated to The Craft Irish Whisky Co., with the addition of the CIWC logo on the back of the case. With a diameter of 41mm, these timepieces are encased in rose gold with rose gold crowns, with upper and lower sapphire crystals, water-resistant to 30 metres. The timepieces contain a self-winding automatic movement from Vaucher Manufacture and make use of a precious and rate 22k gold oscillating weight, decorated in the Fabergé style. Each timepiece is numbered 1/1 to highlight the unique design, and finished with a brown alligator strap and rose gold buckle.

Each one of the seven dials is unique and crafted on the surface of white mother of pearl. Specialised etching techniques, an ancient art-form dating back to the Middle Ages, have been employed to engrave each design. Etching is an engraving technique that uses chemical action to produce incised lines in a metal printing base which then hold the applied ink and form an image. This is a painstaking process and can only be achieved by hand-painting each dial. The etching technique involves the dial being immersed in acid for a precise time. As the mother of pearl disintegrates, it forms a ‘paste’ at the bottom of the recess which prevents the acid from going deeper – this must then be removed by stripping it. This process has to be repeated 4 times to reach the 0.12 millimetres of depth necessary to delicately apply the 24k gold flakes with a brush.

The artwork on the dial is where the personality of each unique timepiece really shines, as each individual artwork is inspired by the carefully chosen landscapes and special places of significance and symbolism across Ireland. A selection of the ‘Seven Wonders of Ireland’ were chosen by CIWC’s Design Director, Tiago Russo. During the design process, the main lines of each location were digitally traced, and every shape was drawn from memory. No digital CAD programmes were used - one hand, one pen, one screen. This way, Russo was able to create something thoroughly unique and was able to draw from the heart. The goal was to portray the beauty of each place, with a unique process that could touch the realms of artistry, with every illustration taking 20 hours to create.

100% of all proceeds of the sale has been pledged to charity with 50% benefitting the Correa Family Foundation supporting children affected by serious illness. The remaining per cent is donated to the buyer's charity of choice.

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