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September 9, 2023

Ladyburn 1966 Edition Three Celebrates Works of David Hicks

The third and final edition in the series explores one of London's most celebrated interior designers.

By Alex Martin

As far as ghost whisky distilleries go, Ladyburn is as ghostly as they come. Opened briefly between 1966 and 1975 in the Scottish Lowlands, no physical sign of its existence remains. Only a handful of archive photos and some exceptionally aged casks, filled during its nine short years in production, are left.

Today, there is one fewer cask. The Ladyburn 1966 Edition Three, comprised of just 210 numbered bottles, has put paid to another piece of tangible history, or at least transferred it to a set of beautiful crystal decanters.

Each cask of Scotch whisky is irrevocably linked to the time and place it started aging in the cask, but that link takes on greater meaning when it comes to a distillery like Ladyburn. The cask may be filled again, but never with Ladyburn distillate. Once its stocks have gone, they’re gone forever.

[See also: This May be the Most Exclusive Whisky Tour in the World]

Bottle of whisky
The Purple Tweed room, designed for Helena Rubinstein / ©William Grant & Sons

That is perhaps why, for this third and final edition, William Grant & Sons (the owning company) have chosen to use it to celebrate the life and works of David Hicks. One of London’s foremost interior designers, Hicks was in the prime of his career when this liquid was laid down in 1966.

He designed rooms for leading lights of the time including Helena Rubinstein and was the genius behind the iconic hotel carpet in Stanley Kubirck’s The Shining. But the London townhouses, country manors and five-star hotels that once adorned his signature are refurbished with frightening frequency. As such, much of Hicks’ work is confined to the archive.

Fortunately, Hicks was meticulous in his keeping of records and cherished his scrapbooks arguably beyond reason – he once told his children, under strict instruction, to prioritize his scrapbooks above all else in the event of a house fire.

Record keeping has played a role in Ladyburn’s continued flicker of a legacy as well. William Grant & Sons count around one million casks in its inventory, a fraction of which contains Ladyburn spirit. It may seem like a needle in a haystack, but malt master Brian Kinsman and his team have had their eye on this cask for many years, carefully checking to see when it might reach its peak.

[See also: The Most Exclusive Scotch Whisky Experiences]

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whisky bottle
The whisky was aged for a total of 56 years / ©William Grant & Sons

That peak came in September 2022 after 56 years in a single sherry butt. The resulting whisky is striking – a rich mahogany dark enough to absorb any light that hits it. Sitting against a stark white canvas, it makes for quite the art piece, especially if you buy the full set.

Featuring 11 bottles – including a ‘Black Swan’ bottle reserved only for those who purchase the complete set – each one comes with an example of Hicks’ best work. Curated by his son, Ashley, the images are paired with his father’s most recognizable patterns. The 11th bottle features a picture of Hicks and his wife Lady Pamela dressed for a formal evening.

The partnership follows on from Ladyburn 1966 Edition One and Two, which celebrated the works of photographers David Bailey and Norman Parkinson respectively. As with the first two editions, the bottles will only be made available through William Grant & Sons’ private clients division.

ladyburn 1966 whisky
The ‘Dressed for Dinner’ bottle / ©William Grant & Sons

Jonathan Driver, MD of that division, says: “The Ladyburn distillery is widely regarded as being ahead of its time both in terms of design and technology. The launch of these elusive whiskies marks a fascinating moment in the history of Scotch whisky and provides collectors access to a ‘ghost distillery’ with a rich and storied past.

“The Ladyburn triptych celebrates a trailblazing distillery and the avant-garde nature of some of Britain’s creative legends, both as relevant and inspiring today as they were in the Sixties.”

Ladyburn 1966 Edition Three tasting notes

Nose: Deep and complex notes of stewed raisins, cloves and dark chocolate. A subtle hint of dried orange comes and goes.

Taste: An evolving profile that changes distinctly over time. Rich and spicy, stewed fruits, dark chocolate and crystallized ginger. As time goes on, the sweeter notes come out: brown sugar and caramelized hazelnuts.

Finish: Long and evolving. Hints of oak and a whisp of menthol.

For further information about William Grant & Sons Private Clients and Ladyburn 1966 collections, contact privateclients@wgrant.com

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