Updated 10/29/15, 5:19 p.m.: All event times are now full, although people who are interested can choose to be added to a wait list.
Scotch brand The Balvenie has selected Houston for its big stop in Texas this year. The event series is called "The Balvenie Rare Craft Collection." In prior years, the event series visited Austin and Dallas, but this time it's the Bayou City's turn. Anthony Bourdain, who stars in the CNN series Parts Unknown, will be making special appearances throughout the series.
The Balvenie cannot disclose the specific date, time or location of the Rare Craft Collection event, and asks that people who are interested register for free on the company's website as a "Warehouse 24 member" to get more information. There are several time slots for groups of 80 to 100, but there are only about 800 total spots available overall.
The event is free, and participants will have opportunities to attend a master class and sample a few different kinds of whiskeys. Additionally, they’ll hear Bourdain discuss his selection process and receive a memento of the occasion.
The event is about craftsmanship and to that end, The Balvenie has partnered with five vendors who handcraft other kinds of products. Each of the participating craftspeople was hand-picked by Bourdain, and they will all share their creative process, personal stories and products. The five featured artists are:
- Megan O’Connell, Letterpress Artist, Salt & Cedar, Michigan
- Elizabeth Brim, Metalsmith, North Carolina
- Sebastian Martorana, Sculptor, Maryland
- Roland G. Murphy, Watchmaker, RGM Watches, Pennsylvania
- Ian McDonald, Cooper, The Balvenie, Scotland
The Balvenie’s brand ambassador, Jonathan Wingo, a Texas native who runs a specialty store in New York called The Whiskey Shop, says the approach is about “battling the ubiquity of what ‘handcrafted’ has become. The word seemed endangered and was losing all its meaning. So we wanted to showcase people doing it the right way. It’s how we feel about making our whisky by hand.”
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Wingo also gave us some insight on one of the craftspeople Bourdain selected, the letterpress artist. “He’s really big on the written word and likes the tangible aspects of it. Yes, having print is great, but he also likes the feeling, the texture and the tactile nature of it.” Each of the five craftspeople will have a space at the event that reflects his or her real working environment.
Bourdain had this to say about the event in a press release:
I’ve said it before, cream rises. Excellence does have its rewards. And I believe the pieces and people I’ve chosen for the Collection are right at the top with the finest craftspeople in America today.
It’s easy to see the pride and love these craftspeople put into their work. Easy to see the years of practice they’ve put in. Easy to see the respect they have for their chosen medium. Practicing a craft in expert fashion is noble, honorable, and satisfying. And I, for one, am glad they’ve chosen to follow their passion to a point where the work they create is worth talking about.
I hope you can join The Balvenie and me on the road this year during the Rare Craft Collection tour. And raise a dram for giving a damn about what we create.
Attendees should plan to arrive a little early for their scheduled event time. For more information, visit The Balvenie website.