Dezeen Magazine

Zaha Hadid Architects and The Dalmore create rare whisky "imbued with life experiences"

In this talk filmed by Dezeen for The Dalmore, Zaha Hadid Architects director Melodie Leung explains how she worked with the Scottish distiller to create a rare edition of its single malt whisky.

During the talk, which was moderated by Wallpaper* China editor Yoko Choy, Leung described her collaboration with whisky makers Richard Paterson and Gregg Glass, with whom she worked to develop a Dalmore 49-year-old single malt whisky housed in a unique glass sculpture.

Melodie Leung of Zaha Hadid Architects collaborates with The Dalmore
Architect Melodie Leung teamed up with whisky makers Gregg Glass and Richard Paterson to create a rare Dalmore whisky

"It wasn't just about the physical outcome of the project," she said, explaining how Paterson and Glass drew on her childhood memories to create the one-off edition, which will be up for auction at Sotheby's this week to raise money for V&A Dundee.

The final product is "imbued with all of our life experiences," she continued.

The event marked the second instalment of a partnership between V&A Dundee and The Dalmore called The Luminary Series, which pairs notable architects with whisky makers to produce limited-edition whiskies.

The 49-year-old whisky is housed in a glass sculpture

Melodie, Glass and Paterson also teamed up to create a more accessible 16-year-old single malt housed in a specially designed presentation case, of which 20,000 are available.

Throughout the talk, which took place at Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, the panel reflected on the complementary elements of architecture and whisky making.

"Even in the first meeting, when we showed these little sketches to Gregg, he was explaining how spatial and three-dimensional the experience of tasting the whisky is," said Leung.

"Obviously we come from very different worlds, but immediately we connected on that other level in the understanding of our craft," she added.

Melodie Leung of Zaha Hadid Architects collaborates with The Dalmore
Leung's whisky and sculpture will be auctioned at Sotheby's to raise funds for V&A Dundee

Glass remarked upon the iterative nature of both professions.

"For us as creatives, designers – of whiskies or buildings – you build up, it might not work, you go back," he said. "Whisky making is an iterative process, as architecture is."

The panel also emphasised the long and painstaking process that went into the whisky's creation.

"Like anything that we create, it takes years to perfect," said Paterson. "If you're looking for luxury, you've got to wait for it."

Melodie Leung of Zaha Hadid Architects collaborates with The Dalmore
Whisky maker Paterson appeared alongside Leung on the panel

Leung stressed the difficulty of creating the glass sculpture, which has a complex swirling form.

"It's very risky for the sculpture because it has really, really thick parts and really thin parts," she said. "It was in the kiln for four months, and every day you turn the temperature down one degree, and at the end of that you don't know if there's any cracks or if the pieces are usable until you take it out and you open it up."

Leung stated that The Glass Foundry, with which she collaborated to create the sculpture, had to develop completely new tools in order to achieve its complex form.

Melodie Leung of Zaha Hadid Architects collaborates with The Dalmore
Glass, a whisky maker, also spoke about the collaboration during the talk

"With something where the curvature is changing like this all the time, and you have to invent new tools and ways to bring this form to its kind of most ideal state."

The collaboration follows the 2022 launch of the Luminary series, for which Japanese architect Kengo Kuma created a 48-piece timber sculpture informed by kintsugi.

The Dalmore is a Scottish whisky distillery based in Alness. It was established in 1839.

Partnership content

This talk was filmed by Dezeen for The Dalmore as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen's partnership content here.