Anthony Bourdain Ties Up With The Balvenie Distillery To Highlight Craft (Not The Whiskey Type)

Celebrity endorsements of key whiskey brands, such as former soccer star David Beckham’s strong relationship with single grain whisky Haig Club (Diageo) or actress Mila Kunis and bourbon brand Jim Beam, are something you should expect to see more of. While the jury is out on whether or not this is actually driving more people to drink these spirits, Scottish distillery The Balvenie is taking a chance it will, announcing today a “unique partnership” with outspoken chef, author and raconteur Anthony Bourdain to help, at least indirectly, promote their Scotch and its “long-standing celebration of craftsmanship.”

The Balvenie Anthony Bourdain

The partnership, which will run now through May 2016, will consist of three elements, of which I’ve outlined all below directly from a press release for your consideration so you can get the full extent of what this undertaking involves.

Raw Craft
Bourdain will serve as the host for Raw Craft, which will give viewers an inspiring behind the scenes look inside the workshops of some of the most talented, creative and hardworking craftspeople in America.  In The Balvenie spirit, Bourdain will uncover the true meaning of craftsmanshipEach film will showcase artisans guiding him through the process while providing unique insight into the dedication and sacrifice required to produce everyday items by hand. The trailer for the online series of short films can be found here – – along with the first film in the series, which highlights Borough Furnace, a metal casting workshop in Syracuse, NYproducing made to order cast iron skillets in a unique and sustainable manner.

American Craft Council Rare Craft Fellowship Awards in association with The Balvenie
Bourdain will serve as the lead juror for this highly coveted award in both 2015 and 2016. Presented annually for contributions to the maintenance and revival of traditional or rare crafts in America, the Fellows will receive an exclusive trip to Scotland and a $10,000endowment to go towards materials to continue their crafts. The four additional finalists will receive a $5,000 endowment. This year the announcement will take place in New York City on March 10th, 2015.

The Balvenie 2015 Rare Craft Collection
In its third year, The Balvenie 2015 Rare Craft Collection will continue as a traveling exhibition featuring original works from some of America’s finest craftspeople. As curator for the Collection, Bourdain will be an integral part of selecting a first-class group of artisans dedicated to making handcrafted goods. Live demonstrations, tutorials and Scotch whisky tastings with The Balvenie will all be featured during this multi-city tour beginning fall 2015.

Now how all of this ultimately helps The Balvenie sell more whiskey, apart from raising brand awareness I guess, is a wonder. Then again, I’ve watched enough of Bourdain in his various TV shows over the years to know the guy’s got a big enough following – maybe that is why the distillery went after him.

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“For me,” said Bourdain in a statement, “there is deep satisfaction in seeing people, with a particular skill set and a real passion, produce a beautiful thing which is why I’m excited to be a part of these programs in partnership with The Balvenie. There is no doubt for me, that if you can have it, you want the stuff where people have taken their time, paid attention to and personally care about how it was created. It is very important to me that these kinds of crafts continue into the future and we value artisans who make the decision to choose quality over quantity.”

As for how this distillery sees itself in relation to the craft movement (not necessarily American craft whiskey, mind you), it was noted in a statement that its “alliance with craft is a result of the brand’s dedication to continuing the tradition of using the five rare crafts of whisky making to create The Balvenie’s distinctive taste and exceptional quality. It is the only distillery that still grows its own barley, malts in its own traditional malting floor, employs coopers to tend every cask, a coppersmith to maintain the stills and a malt master to ensure the resulting spirit is consistently excellent.”


I’ve embedded above the trailer for Raw Craft and below is the first episode. After watching it, does it make you want to go to your local liquor store and buy a bottle of Balvenie whisky? Your thoughts always appreciated in the comments.