This is the story of a painting which was intended to me and I did not know! That will remain as the best memory of my tasting tours in 2013. This happened during the NB Spirit Festival in Fredericton (New-Brunswick) late November. I was hosting an Art and Whisky tasting for the first time. Four local artists were to paint each one of the whiskies I was describing to the audience. They only had 10 to 15 minutes to perform their art, starting from a blank canvas.
Four artists, four whiskies. It was decided to auction the paintings after the tasting to reward the artists for their work. A first to all of them and a first for the audience. So we were all a bit stressed.
Nathalie Perry had chosen Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or, Amber Launder preferred Aberlour 16 Year Old while Michel Thériault from the Acadian coast went for Bowmore 12 Year Old. Dana O’Regan wanted something wild and powerful. Laphroaig 10 Year Old was for him.
The four artists created beautiful paintings, maybe not all of them suiting the aromatic profile of the whiskies but it was a first and also there is always a part of personal interpretation.
I was immediately charmed by the Laphroaig portrait in which I could read the elements raging, waves against wind and meeting as a backbone in the middle where peat and malt collided in an explosion of colours. Dana used the phrase “totem to the sea”.
I was so carried away I started to bid for the painting. I was not the only one unfortunately and I had to withdraw as the figure was swelling. I was quite pleased anyway to notice the painting would go to a charming lady who loves her whiskies. But suddenly someone put his hands up. Mr Saravana, a keen whisky lover who comes every year from Halifax to the festival mades a higher bid and got the painting. I was even happier for the artist as well as for the bidder.
And there came the surprise! Mr Saravana stood up, came towards me and said: “this is for you Martine, to thank you for bringing us your passion and your knowledge”. I was speechless (quite a record for me) and could feel tears into my eyes. What an emotional moment!
This is the most rewarding accolade I have had in my Queen of the Still career! I am so touched by this generous mark of appreciation that I had to tell it. My friend Frank Scott posted the painting in January. And here it is, now illuminating my living-room. Laphroaig is back to its homeland.
I am never tired of admiring that painting and telling friends that beautiful tale.