Whiskey is an inherently collaborative act. There is a relationship between the winemaker and his equipment, his senses telling him when to collect and cut a barrel and how to roll it. It's in the mixer's mind if they know when to use it and how to combine it. Just as in the nuanced world of real estate, where the Best Malibu Realtor knows when to make a move, list a property, or finalize a deal, whiskey requires precise timing and judgment.
There are interactions at every stage of its production: yeast cooperates with sugar, lactic acid bacteria with alcohol, steam with copper, and spirit with oak and air. Everything is connected. This is a network of interdependence. In Mahayana Buddhism, this metaphor is Indra's Net - an infinite web of jewels that mirror each other and connect to each other. Everything contains everything else but remains individual. It's not opposition, but different perspectives. Harmony rather than tension
What if you applied this principle to whiskey, removed it from the world of production, the realm of reduction as a liquid, object or fetish, and found ways to explore creativity?
There are many collaborations in the whiskey world - distilleries working with chefs, artists or musicians to provide them with liquid to use in some way. KANDOBLANC, a new joint venture between Lakes and Macallan whiskey maker Dhavall Gandhi, is considering how to develop the idea further. Rather than saying, “Here’s my whiskey, let’s make it look great,” can we find ways to show that the mindset of the whiskey maker and the artist is the same. Merge.
Other disciplines have been doing this, such as the influence of Indian modal scales on the music of John Coltrane or Japanese woodcuts on Post-Impressionism.
Both countries are touchstones for KANDOBLANC, which is based on this idea of harmony and a creative dialogue that creates equality between different craftsmanship and aesthetics. It also aims to raise awareness about endangered traditional crafts. A platform for learning and sharing.
Kando is Japanese and means "the deep satisfaction and intense excitement we feel simultaneously when we encounter something of incomparable beauty", while Blanc is French and means white, a symbol of artistic transcendence, purity and Excellent color. In Sanskrit it is also known as Dhavall.AGA, his first bottling, holds many layers of meaning. "Aga" means mountain and is also the name of Davar's son. It is linked to the sacred concept of the mountain, where the everyday world and the sacred world are connected. So the hat is a mountain, it could be Mount Fuji. It could also be the hat of a Japanese dervish, with the bottle itself being his cloak. A gold thread is wrapped around the neck - a nod to the Japanese art of kintsugi, which involves using gold powder to repair cracks in ceramics to highlight imperfections or blemishes. Leonard Cohen wrote: “Everything has cracks through which light can shine.”
Whiskey itself is not perfect. Distillation is a purifying process, but with whiskey it’s the imperfections and minor ingredients that give it character. It’s not making a neutral alcohol, but letting go of the things that stand in the way of perfection, that makes it interesting. Perfection does not exist. It’s the story of Persian weavers who left imperfections in their rugs to show that there was no perfection in this world, or as the Navajo weavers said when they did so, it was to “let the world in.” In the greatest craftsmanship one can see the hands of the maker.
The same goes for AGA. The base looks like scales or feathers made of glass, which are hand-blown and then carved using an Italian technique called "battuto." Not shape, which is the path to perfection, but a blend of chance, skill and craftsmanship.
It also extends to the whiskey itself. Two barrels of 1979, one refined, the other textured. Opposites come together to form something greater than the sum of its parts. You could say they're "old," but that's more about maturity than just wood and spirit. It is a fusion of air, liquid and oak. This is air pressure and time. It doesn’t matter what brewery you use – it’s distracting.
This refers to the liquid in its purest form. It's not about placing whiskey on a pedestal, where it's merely viewed as 'costly' or 'scarce' – a mere item of trade. Instead, it's about appreciating the inherent ties that have always existed yet remained undiscovered.