Collecting Spirits for the Bottle Rather Than What’s Inside
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Collecting Spirits for the Bottle Rather Than What’s Inside

More enthusiasts are buying spirits collectibles for the keepsakes themselves.

By JAKE EMEN
Thu, Jan 20, 2022 11:15amGrey Clock 4 min

Collecting spirits is by no means a new pursuit. But these days more enthusiasts are buying spirits collectibles for the keepsakes themselves, as opposed to the liquid delights held within.

There are collectible decanters and unique bottle designs, limited-edition labels and artwork, and partnerships with fine purveyors of all manners of crafts. From the lovers of kitsch and those who enjoy completing hard to find sets, to the loyal aficionados of particular beloved brands, more people are collecting beautiful bottles and collaborations than ever.

An Old Trend Is New Again

Old Overholt, a classic rye whiskey brand, teamed up with Steinbach, a German manufacturer of fine wooden crafts, to produce a unique, highly limited run of nutcrackers. Fashioned in the likeness of Abraham Overholt, who founded the brand over two centuries ago, the nutcracker is standing behind a whiskey barrel and a sack of rye grain while holding a bottle of whiskey. The collaboration was tied to the holiday season this year, as a means of buying a whiskey-centric gift for a loved one that isn’t merely a bottle to drink.

“A collectible piece of craftsmanship like this offers whiskey drinkers an entirely new way to celebrate and display their love for the brand beyond a rare bottle,” says Bradford Lawrence of Beam Suntory, Old Overholt’s parent company. “To my knowledge, no other whiskey founder has been immortalized as a nutcracker like this, and so we’re thrilled to be able to offer a fun, new item for enthusiasts to seek out, get excited about, and show off to friends and fellow collectors alike.”

While an affordable brand might seem like an odd match for a premium collectible, it’s actually somewhat of a tradition within the world of American whiskey. Ceramic decanters of bourbon were all the rage in the 1960s and 1970s, with Wild Turkey and Jim Beam in particular releasing a litany of them. As journalist Aaron Goldfarb explained, the original idea behind them was to create an avenue to increase sales in the face of whiskey’s waning popularity in an era which saw vodka’s meteoric rise.

The tides have turned in recent years, and there are certain whiskey brands that have the opposite problem, a dwindling supply that can’t keep pace with fervent global demand.

That’s the case for Hibiki, the much sought-after blended Japanese whisky produced by Suntory Whisky. With several of its age-statement labels removed from the market due to that supply issue, one way it remains at the forefront for collectors is through the release of limited edition bottles. The 2021 limited edition of Hibiki Japanese Harmony features a flowing floral design, with 24 different blossoms depicting the 24 micro-seasons of the Japanese lunar calendar, atop the brand’s signature 24-facet bottle face.

Glenmorangie, meanwhile, released a limited edition of its 18-year-old single malt with a design from flower artist and botanical sculptor Azuma Makoto. He was inspired by Glenmorangie’s floral flavor palate and interpreted that taste into a piece of art with 100 blooms, including specific aromas from the whisky. The sculpture, dubbed Dancing Flowers of Glenmorangie, was photographed and featured on the label and gift box of the special edition Glenmorangie 18 Azuma Makoto bottle.

It seems like every major brand wants to get in on the fun. Angostura teamed up with specialty leather goods purveyor Clayton & Crume for a special cocktail kit in the form of a stylish leather dopp bag, with a number of handy accessories included. Standout cocktail bar Death & Co. teamed up with Jameson for a Cocktail Courier holiday kit which includes the Death & Co: Welcome Home cocktail book, bottles of Jameson Black Barrel and The Glenlivet 12 year old, and ingredients for several signature drinks.

Craft Goes Collectible

While large, global brands have a built in fan base that collects special-edition offerings, even smaller and craftier brands have been getting into the collectible arena. Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin released a limited edition ceramic bottle r with a style which reflects the oriental botanicals used in the spirit, such as gunpowder tea.

“With this bottle, our founder PJ Rigney wanted to pay homage to the traditional Chinese pottery that would have been used in tea ceremonies for hundreds of years—it was at one such ceremony that PJ first came across the gunpowder tea that sparked what ended up as the recipe for Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin,” says Conor O’Brien of The Shed Distillery. “If you look closely at the bottle you can see some iconic scenes from the village of Drumshanbo, as well as The Shed Distillery itself.”

With regulations for selling and shipping alcohol direct to consumers loosening up in many parts of the U.S., partially due to the pandemic, Westward Whiskey launched a first of its kind national members club. The Westward Whiskey Club was launched in 2019, but was extended across 30 states this year thanks to that shifting legal landscape. Members, who can opt to receive one or three bottles per quarter, receive exclusive club-only whiskeys with unique cask finishes, and bottles adorned with eye-catching metallic plaques.

“For some time now, we have received requests from Westward enthusiasts to engage with our brand and team on a deeper, more personal level, so we’re excited to offer them a platform to join our community,” says Thomas Mooney, Westward’s founder and CEO.

Reprinted by permission of Penta. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: January 15, 2022.



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Should AI Have Access to Your Medical Records? What if It Can Save Many Lives?

We asked readers: Is it worth giving up some potential privacy if the public benefit could be great? Here’s what they said.

By DEMETRIA GALLEGOS
Tue, May 28, 2024 4 min

We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).

Postmortem

People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.

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