Willow walker

A beautiful special edition set of bottles tells the story of Johnnie Walker’s first trip to China


This set of seven Commemorative Edition Johnnie Walker bottles, illustrated by Chris Martin, formed part of Manchester-based agency Love’s design of a Shanghai ‘experience space’ for the whisky brand called The Johnnie Walker House.

Martin was commissioned to create an illustration to mark the fact that the brand first became available in China in 1910, information gleaned from shipping and stock records from the Johnnie Walker archive in Menstrie, Scotland. He depicted an imaginary journey from Scotland to China of the Johnnie Walker character himself.

“Our brief to Chris was to use Chinese iconography such as the wind, monsters, and dragons,” explains Love’s Chris Myers, “plus Johnnie Walker brand iconography including square bottles and the Striding Man, as well as ships from the era and whatever else he wanted to include to bring this epic journey across the oceans to life.”

Martin’s illustration was then split into seven sections, each of which appears on one of the commemorative porcelain bottles which reference the traditional blue-on-white Willow pattern used in Chinese porcelain and contain a 1910 blend of the whisky. The illustration was also etched in copper to form an art installation that covered an entire wall of one of the rooms in The Johnnie Walker House.

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