Friday 19 December 2014

Makers & Brothers Select Reserve Glass

If you're anything like me, you'll be thinking about getting around to buying Christmas presents one of these days. If the intended recipients of those presents are anything like me, you won't need to stray much further than the Makers & Brothers pop-up shop on Dame Lane in Dublin.

I visited the shop recently and several items caught my eye that would delight the spirits drinker.

Select Reserve Whiskey Tumbler

This was the initial draw that lured me to the shop. I met Midleton's Master Blender, Billy Leighton, back in October and he told me some of the qualities in his ideal whiskey glass. He collaborated with Makers & Brothers and The Irish Handmade Glass Company to create such a glass so I was very keen to see how it turned out.

Photo: Al Higgins, courtesy of Makers & Brothers

As it happens, stock didn't arrive till a couple of days after my visit so I haven't laid hands on it myself yet. This is how Makers & Brothers describe the concept and design process:
The project began with Master Blender Billy Leighton, Billy introduced Makers & Brothers to the need for a wide base in a glass to allow for swirling and aerating the whiskey and a narrow opening to focus the aroma. The classic glass of this type is tulip shaped with a small stem, delicate and scientific in its use it almost takes the joy out of what should be a magical moment. Makers & Brothers wanted to keep the key functions but create something a little more modern and everyday. 
An everyday whiskey tumbler, sturdy with a form reminiscent of the barrels the whiskey matures in. Truncated to allow for a swirl and a focused aroma but beyond that a simple glass that elevated the drinking experience and was a pleasure to hold with a wide base and a small ridge around its middle. 
To develop the idea further Makers & Brothers called on the expertise of the master craftsmen at The Irish Handmade Glass Company, the men responsible for keeping the tradition of mouth-blown glass alive in Ireland. Like all of the products designed at Makers & Brothers, learning about the makers’ individual techniques is an integral part of the design process. Makers & Brothers worked with The Irish Handmade Glass Company to turn the prototype moulds from local oak, experiment with scale and refine the details with each new iteration. Every adjustment was the result of fascinating conversations and experiments with glass blowers and cutters down in Waterford. 
Each glass is handmade in Co Waterford, on the banks of The Three Sisters River, the home of Irish Crystal. This whiskey tumbler is the result of a strong and respectful partnership between designer, maker and blender.
There is a video of the collaboration.

Price: €40.


I understand that the Select Reserve glasses sell out quickly when they arrive in the shop but two other Irish glass makers are represented too, J. Hill's Standard and Jerpoint.

I also spied an unusually small, slender, glass water jug with a pour fine enough to deliver the tiniest splash needed to open a reluctant whiskey, and a beautifully-glazed ceramic jug that wasn't quite as petite but would look great at an Irish whiskey tasting.

You may or may not find exactly these items on your visit to the shop as they are artisan products hand-made in small quantities. You are guaranteed, however, to find yourself surrounded by the best of contemporary Irish design. The shop disappears for another year on Christmas Eve, so do drop by over the next few days. (Their website remains online all year round, of course.)