'Macbeth' - a Scotch Whisky collection illustrated by Quentin Blake

Friday 3rd March 2023

Taking his work truly off the page, Quentin has illustrated characters from Shakespeare's play 'Macbeth' for a new collection of Scotch whisky, the first phase (or 'Act') of which was released this week.

In a project spanning several years, Quentin created drawings of characters from 'The Scottish Play', one character for each of the 42 bottles in the set.  Major characters, or 'leads', such as Macbeth and King Duncan, are featured alongside the nobility - Macduff, Angus and so on - and the Household characters - the comedic Porter, 'a Gentlewoman' and others.  Ghosts, Weird Sisters and Murderers all also take a turn in the spotlight. Quentin has  transmuted Shakespeare's characters into crow-like birds, created using bold black ink lines and a scratchy quill and tinted with single, themed colours of watercolour wash, reflecting the dark tone of the original play.

Quentin was commissioned to do the drawings by designer and Livingstone whisky company founder, Alexis Livingstone Burgess.  He commented: 

Sir Quentin Blake was one of my first clients and I’ve been fortunate to design books and exhibitions with him for over 20 years. He’s an extraordinary person - 90 years old and still drawing all day, every day. Obviously I wanted Quentin to illustrate the characters. He showed limited interest, until I suggested drawing them as birds. Quentin, who has been drawing anthropomorphic birds for decades ... rang me the following morning to say he had woken at 4am and completed a set of rough drawings in bed. It was one of the most exciting moments of my working life.

The Macbeth series was created by independent bottler Elixir Distillers and whisky company Livingstone. Whisky writer Dave Broom matched different characters from the play to individual malts.  'Macbeth' is a limited edition Scotch Whisky Collection of 42 characters, containing six series, and will be released in five Acts over the course of the next three years.

More information, for those of legal drinking age only, is at: https://livingstonerare.com/