‘Sleeping Beauty’ whisky is awoken to help secure ballet company’s future

Scotland’s national ballet company has awoken a unique cask of “Sleeping Beauty” whisky it was donated 26 years ago to help it withstand the impact of the pandemic.

Scottish Ballet dancer Alice Kawalek with The Sleeping Beauty cask.

Whisky lovers and ballet fans are expected to compete to snap up 470 bottles of Royal Lochnagar whisky, which is made in Royal Deeside, on the edge of the Balmoral estate.

Prince Charles, patron of Scottish Ballet, is helping to promote the coming sale at auction of the bottles, all proceeds from which will go to the national company’s endowment fund.

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It has described the sale, which will be run online from September 9-13, as “vital in ensuring the company’s long-term future”.

The cask was a gift to Scottish Ballet to mark its 25th anniversary from its former vice chair, Lord MacFarlane of Bearsden, who at the time was also chair of United Distillers.

The cask end depicting Princess Aurora from the Sleeping Beauty fairytale was painted by Scottish artist Norman Edgar, based on the company’s then principal dancer Nicci Theis.

The sale is billed as a chance to “own a piece of Scotland's distilling history and be a part of the future development of Scotland's national dance company”.

The first auction lot will include the cask end painting while the first ten will also secure the buyer unique, behind-the-scenes experiences with the ballet company.

Artist Norman Edgar was commissioned to paint the cask end portraying Scottish Ballet principal dancer Nicci Theis.

Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet’s artistic director, said: “‘Like all arts organisations, Scottish Ballet has endured a challenging 18 months unable to perform live.

“This income will be vital in ensuring the company’s long-term future and capacity to inspire future audiences, on stage and beyond.

"We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has played their part in bringing this whisky fairytale to life.”

Prince Charles said: “It is marvellous to know that this unique gift has been bottled and will now be offered for sale in support of the Scottish Ballet Endowment Fund, ensuring a life-long benefit to all those who love ballet and who love Scotland.”

Scottish Ballet dancer Alice Kawalek at Royal Lochnagar Distillery on Royal Deeside.

James Mackay, head of rare and exceptional spirits at Diageo, said: “It is with great pride and pleasure that we have bottled ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ Cask of Distinction, beginning a new chapter in this beautiful story, and to offer lovers of Scottish craft and fine arts a chance to appreciate this unique single malt Scotch whisky, while benefiting Scottish Ballet.”

Lord MacFarlane said: “It is deeply gratifying that this Royal Lochnagar cask, which I presented to Scottish Ballet in celebration of its 25th anniversary, is now being awoken.

“I am delighted that people will now be able to taste this extremely special whisky, but even more importantly the legacy of our donation will be continued through the funds the cask will raise for the Scottish Ballet Endowment

Fund.”

Joe Wilson, head of auction content at Whisky Auctioneer, which will be conducting the online sale, said: “It’s a privilege to support the Scottish Ballet Endowment Fund by hosting the online auction of this incredibly distinctive Royal Lochnagar release.

"This whisky has a story to tell and an important cause to support, so we are sure that both whisky and ballet lovers, as well as collectors around the world, will be excited to have the opportunity to acquire such an interesting expression.”

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