The art of whisky – a toast from Speyside to Taiwan

A small Scottish distillery may seem a world away from the vibrant arts and cultural scene of Taipei in Taiwan.

But Speyside Distillery is underlining its support of international arts in a unique collaboration with The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts (PSTA).

The distillery has, for several years, sponsored students of the London school founded and supported by HRH The Prince of Wales to teach, research and promote the practice and theory of the arts and crafts of the world’s great traditions

Now five of these students, past and present, have been given the opportunity to showcase their work at the PSTA first International Exhibition in Taiwan.

Joanna Miller's Art on display in Taiwan
Joanna Miller’s Art on display in Taiwan


Speyside Distillery is operated by Scotch whisky firm Harvey’s of Edinburgh which has well-established commercial links with Asia. Its whisky brands are well known in Taiwan where the company’s CEO John Harvey McDonough lived for 20 years.

During those years, the company worked with up-and-coming artists in photography, art and design and packaging in association with its products and marketing and John was introduced to a representative of the PSTA who was visiting Taiwan on a British trade and industry supported trip.

Connections between the whisky brand and the art school were made, and have flourished, with Speyside Distillery sponsoring a student to attend the school each year. The company is delighted to develop these connections further by being a partner at the exhibition which will help the artists develop their careers.

John says: “Harvey’s of Edinburgh have a long relationship with The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts which is one of the company’s high profile supported charities.

“Each year we sponsor a student from Taiwan or China to attend and gain a postgraduate degree by studying at the school in London. In return the student not only gains a qualification but the support of the company in artistic and creative ventures following graduation.

“The forthcoming Taiwanese exhibition is an example of that support, and these artists will be able to showcase their art and talent to some very important guests.

“Whisky making at our artisan boutique distillery, where processes are done by hand rather than by machine and computer, has hardly changed in hundreds of years. That in itself is traditional craft and here we are supporting artists in traditional arts, and we are honoured to do so through the PSTA.

“The PSTA is a valued partner to our company and we are delighted to be associated with such a prestigious organisation.”

Artist Joanna Miller will have work on show and attend the exhibition. She says the chance for artists to be profiled in this way is a great honour that will help raise both the confidence and the reputation of the featured artists.

It’s just one of the exciting opportunities that has been afforded to her through the SPEY in 2016 – Joanna will also have an artist residency at Dumfries House stately home and has secured exhibition space Saatchi Gallery in London for five days in September.

Joanna says: “I am exhibiting a selection of screen prints with pen and ink which I have created exclusively for the exhibition in Taiwan. My work is based around the Spey Valley wildlife which surround the beautiful Speyside Distillery.

“I have had some great opportunities, working on glass and packaging and labels for Speyside Distillery and also I have recently supported the PSTA by donating a screen print which was sold at the Saatchi gallery in London earlier this year.”

Joanna is the official artist for SPEY. She has spent some time studying at the School as part of the Open Programme and therefore has been able to provide artistic links between the two organisations.

The Art of Whisky
Joanna Miller’s Work


The exhibition in Taiwan will also feature the work of Andrew Franks from England and David Gray from Scotland who were both Spey Artists in Residence at Dumfries House, where they created artwork inspired by the estate.

The other exhibitors are graduate John Chung who is back living and working in his native Taiwan and this year’s Spey student YungFeng Cong from China. They will be showing a selection of works in ceramics, tiles and drawings, inspired by traditional design techniques.

As the capital of Taiwan, Taipei is home to an inspiring collection of contemporary art showcasing both Chinese and international art and VIP guests to the PSTA exhibition will have the opportunity to purchase works at an exclusive dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with the menu created and cooked by a chef for the UK Royal family.

Speyside Distillery is proud of its royal connections and Spey’s Royal Choice Scotch whisky is licensed exclusively to the Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that manages many of the UK’s unoccupied royal palaces including Hampton Court, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, the Banqueting House at Whitehall and Hillsborough Castle.

John and Joanna are jetting out to Asia to attend the International Exhibition from January 10-22 when among the guests will include the UK’s government Representative in Taiwan Chris Woods and Peter Kent CMG, former Chairman of Taiwan Advisers Group and Deputy joint Chairman of Taiwan Britain Business Council.

Speyside Distillery sponsors one student a year and will be seeking its 2017 candidate soon.

Home of the SPEY brand of malt whisky, Speyside Distillery has been in production since 1990 and is operated by Speyside Distillers Ltd. It is located near Aviemore, set against the stunning backdrop of the Cairngorm mountain range in the heart of Scotland’s most prolific whisky-producing region.