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Livingstone’s Macbeth Collection

Livingstone’s Macbeth Collection

From stage to bottle: The Macbeth-inspired whisky series

Design agency: Burgess Studio
Brand owner: Livingstone
Whisky Partner: Elixir Distillers
Writer: Dave Broom
Illustrator: Sir Quentin Blake 
Label printer: Royston Labels
Label material: Fasson® Cotton Extra White


In the intricate world of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the infamous Scottish king is driven by ambition, power, and destiny. Set against the rugged Highlands' backdrop, the tale unfolds with a rich brew of treachery, prophecy, and regal intrigue as intoxicating as a well-aged Scotch whisky. Indeed, the comparison is no mere flight of poetic fancy. Just as the tragic complexities of Macbeth have captivated audiences for centuries, whisky, too, possesses an alchemical mystery that commands attention and respect. The crafting of this beverage, like the weaving of a Shakespearean plot, requires patience, expertise, and a profound understanding of its elements. This fascinating parallel forms the heart of a unique venture between Livingstone and Elixir Distillers.

Launched in February 2023, their Macbeth-inspired whisky collection features all forty-two characters in the play. The collection is a homage to Shakespeare's timeless work, with each edition portraying a character from the tragedy. A majestic, 56-year-old Glen Grant single-cask whisky personifies King Duncan's refined style, while smoky Islay and island whiskies lend their intense feeling to the Witches and Murderers. The spectral essence of ghost distilleries appears, fittingly, as the Ghosts.

Livingstone’s Macbeth Collection
Livingstone’s Macbeth Collection

This ambitious project synthesizes the creative vision of Lexi Livingstone Burgess, the founder of Livingstone and Burgess Studio, celebrated for his design work in Scotch. Teamed up with Sukhinder Singh, the owner of award-winning independent bottler Elixir Distillers, and Dave Broom, a respected whiskey writer, the concept has been reimagined to create a new stage for the characters to inhabit.

The labels of these limited-edition whiskies are a visual feast, each graced with an illustration of the character drawn by the legendary Sir Quentin Blake. Lexi, who has collaborated with Blake for over two decades, marvels at the illustrator's talent and dedication. The illustrations, which depict the characters as birds, bring a whimsical touch to the whisky bottles. Blake's love for drawing anthropomorphic birds inspired this unique concept, adding a layer of creativity to the narrative.

Additionally, the whisky profiles, created by Dave Broom, are just as character-driven as Shakespeare's play. They capture the essence of the individuals, their traits echoing in the whisky's notes. "Smoke lends itself to creating the impression of wildness and danger, a straying to the dark side; the blood and gore of this tragedy brought to mind rich, sherried whiskies; light and 'goodness' felt best conveyed by refill American oak: golden, honeyed, soft, gentle and sweet," he explains.

The finished labels were printed on Avery Dennison's Fasson® Cotton Extra White paper, chosen to replicate Sir Quentin Blake's watercolor paper closely. As a result, the drawings are nearly flawlessly reproduced, the colors vivid and true to the illustrator's work. The tactile and visual appeal of the labels complements the sensory experience of the whisky, creating an immersive journey for the connoisseur.

This innovative project has been greeted with enthusiasm, already making a significant impact in the UK market, with plans to launch in Europe and Asia later this year. Much like the central character of Shakespeare's tragedy, this whisky collection is a testament to the power of ambition, the pursuit of perfection, and the enduring allure of a well-told tale. Thus, this whisky collection not only embodies Shakespeare's intricate character development but also pays homage to the artistry of whisky-making. Just as Shakespeare's Macbeth leaves a profound impression on its audience, this collection is sure to leave its mark on the world of whisky, proving once again that "all the world's a stage," even within the realms of a whisky glass.


Livingstone’s Macbeth Collection

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