From whisky making to tailoring, we raise a glass to British craftsmanship with Aberlour

Gentleman’s Journal has partnered with the Speyside distillery for a celebration of homegrown skill; from leatherworkers Ettinger to Savile Row's Henry Poole…

We Brits are a crafty bunch. From Exmoor to the Moray Firth, our country brims with accomplished artisans and craftspeople — working across countless diverse disciplines and industries. For centuries, these homegrown workers have honed their skills and sold their wares. And, whether it be whisky, tailoring or intricate leatherwork, every new creation continues to ensure that ours is a land of hope, glory, development and design.

And a thread that runs through the most respected and revered of these British brands — one that trickles down from the most mountainous Highland distilleries through to the bespoke bustle of London’s city streets — is that of professional passion and pride. It’s a certain dignity that sets us apart from the rest of the world, one exemplified by Britain’s best labels: shoemaker Crockett & Jones; shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser; and cabinetmaker Edward Barnsley.

But perhaps the most spirited of these institutions can be found in a small village in Scotland, by an even smaller tributary of the River Spey. Aberlour has been bottling fine single malts since 1879 — created using barley grown mere miles from the distillery itself, and fresh spring water drawn from Banffshire’s Ben Rinnes.

Each of Aberlour’s spirits sleeps for at least twelve years in Spanish sherry and American oak casks to develop their award-winning flavours. And notes of vanilla, toasted coconut and rich dark fruits are suffused throughout each expression. For theirs is an age-old process, and one that has been exported to — and enjoyed at — every corner of the globe.

Today, the much-loved brand has a cult status in whisky-sipping circles. Complex and rewarding, the distillery’s ‘12-Year-Old‘ expression remains one of the most reliable, stalwart single malts in any collection. It tempers the unique distillate’s crisp, citrus character thanks to that double-cask maturation process, and deftly delivers a sherried, chocolatey finish after your final sip.

It’s an art; not a science. And, despite this attention to detail — the meticulous calculations and finely tuned methods — Aberlour’s craft comes down to the workers’ inimitable human touch. In this, the distillery is not alone. For, while Aberlour may lead the whisky-making pack, other British brands share their generational, specialist spirit. They share the heritage values and hard working ethics — and few are as aligned in this as bastion of blue-ribbon leatherwork; Ettinger.

Founded in 1934, Ettinger began as an importer of luxury leather goods from Europe. But, over the years, the British brand — family-owned and operated to this day — began to create and sell its own wallets, belts and bags. And, from a factory in Walsall, the well-trained workforce has produced artisanal accessories for its loyal customers, and even fellow British establishments including Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, and Bentley.

In 1996, six years after current CEO Robert Ettinger took the well-tanned reigns of the company, the calibre of Ettinger’s manufacturing was recognised by members of the royal family when the brand was granted a royal warrant by HRH The Prince of Wales, now King Charles III.

This honour gave Ettinger the right to bear the three-feathered ‘Prince of Wales Cypher’ on all of its products. And subsequent years have seen the British brand progress even further — pushing the envelope of leather artistry and introducing its goat leather ‘Capra’ collection, a spectrum of versatile coloured leathers and products including watch rolls, tote bags and credit card cases.

But perhaps the most statement-making showcase of the brand’s artisanal abilities can be found in its bespoke offerings. This may be the embossing or embroidering initials — adding a personal touch to existing products, or it may be a completely custom-made wallet (choose from 34 leathers, 20 threads and two linings), but these tailor-made touches are where Ettinger shows its true mastery of leather-working techniques.

There’s similar bespoke skill on show down on Savile Row. The fabric-cutting kings of this hallowed swathe of style are Henry Poole; a bespoke brand that cut its first suit over two centuries ago and shares both Aberlour’s and Ettinger’s eyes for perfectly formed products.

The heritage tailor’s most neatly trimmed claim to fame is its invention of the dinner jacket. In 1860, Henry Poole himself created a shorter smoking jacket for the Prince of Wales’ Sandringham soirées. An American guest — who was inspired by the royal’s threads — commissioned his own jacket and wore it to an evening at New York’s Tuxedo Club. From there, the style reached a global audience of discerning dressers. And Henry Poole became a name known across the world.

The renown was well-earned — just like the golden reputation and amber liquid of Aberlour. Because Henry Poole, like the distillery, has been subtly refining and bettering its business since the 19th century. And, with every different distillate, or perfected pattern, these brands continue to use their generations of heritage and experience to create superior, well-crafted goods.

The tools may vary — a whiskymaker’s valinch, a leatherworker’s skiver, a tailor’s tracing wheel — but these workmen are made not by their implements and instruments. Rather, they are shaped by the knowledge they hold. And it is only by putting your trust in the most proficient, practiced names that can you guarantee you’re getting the best. So raise a glass to Aberlour, to Ettinger, to Henry Poole — and to the enduring art of craftsmanship.

Want more of Britain’s best? We step inside Lunaz, the British brand restoring classic cars to their former glory…

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