In Safe Hands
Angela Dineen, Operations Director at Diageo's Claive Vidiz Collection, walks us through one of the most impressive collections of Scotch in the world.
How did a collection as big as the Claive Vidiz come to be? Claive Vidiz lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil. During his climb to the top of his business in the 60s and 70s he frequently came into contact with the very prestigious and well-regarded Scotch whisky. It became known that when colleagues travelled to Brazil on business, they would always be invited to join Claive for a dram at the end of the day. His reputation for loving Scotch became strong and a Scottish colleague brought him six bottles of single malt, introducing him to the "really good stuff." It was given with the explicit instruction to open them and share them only with his very best friends. Claive was so overwhelmed and appreciative that he never did open these six bottles and they formed the foundation of the 3,384 strong collection of bottles that we house today. I imagine you could teach our readers one or two things about storage. What are the main things you take into consideration when storing your whiskies? We keep a close eye on the temperature and humidity in the vault to ensure we protect the collection; a couple of the bottles are over 120 years on so you can imagine how fragile some of the labels are. The glass units are not hermetically sealed so we have to dust the bottles regularly. This is done with museum grade gloves, clean cloths, and no product. For storing at home, we would suggest that you keep the bottles out of direct sunlight and store them upright. Are there any types of whisky that were not collected? The collection features single malt Scotch whiskies from each of the regions; Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, Islay, and Campbeltown, blended malts, blends, single grains, and Scotch whisky liqueurs. A high percentage of the collection is blended Scotch whisky; which is reflective of the industry given the almost 90% of all Scotch sold globally is also blended. There are many bottles which we don't feature but as a collection it is a wonderful liquid history collected over the course of almost 40 years depending on what was available to Claive during these four decades. The oldest bottles date as far back as 1896. Are these bottles ever opened? None of the bottles in the collection have ever been opened. Claive also had an extensive whisky collection in his private bar at home which he did sample so sometimes he bought two bottles, one for the collection and one for his bar. There is evaporation from some of the bottles but that's just the angels taking their share as the seals in some of the old bottles aren't quite perfect. How do the tastings work? Here at The Scotch Whisky Experience all visitors sample a dram of their choice in the beautiful amber glow of the collection. These vary on a daily basis allowing visitors to choose from the regions, or a first-rate blended Scotch whisky. On our Gold Tour, guests sample one of each of the five regions. For some of our visitors, this will be their first taste of Scotch whisky and we could think of no better backdrop for what we hope will be a truly memorable moment for them. Is there one whisky that constitutes the crown jewel in this collection? There are so many wonderful bottles within the collection but the two oldest are standouts - a Buchanan's dating back to 1897 and a Dewar's from 1901. The best things about the collection are the sheer variety of brands it contains, and the personal connections visitors have with the bottles - from quirky ceramics, to limited editions, to standard bottles that you can recognise as favourites from your parents and grandparents' drink cabinets. What do you like about the whisky industry today? The same thing I loved when I first started working in the world of whisky 25 years ago - the people and their passion. The stories behind the brands and the innovative and diverse ways you can enjoy our national drink. It's a real privilege to spend my days helping the world fall in love with Scotch whisky. What advice would you give to a beginner looking to start their own Claive Vidiz collection? Invest in some strong shelves! I love that anyone has the passion to commit to collecting anything, especially Claive and the collection he amassed over 37 years. It's such a great legacy and it's amazing to see how people react when they first see it - it's such a "wow!" I love Scotch whisky and think it's best enjoyed with friends, there are so many wonderful memories to be made over a dram or two. Maybe the advice would be to invest in two bottles at a time, like Claive did with his favourites. One for your collection and one to open and enjoy! The whisky you would personally like to try the most? Within the collection I'm fascinated by the oldest bottles and intrigued to see what they taste like, but I think personally I'd like to try one of the bottles of the older Benrinnes which my granda would have had a hand in making. To build your own collection of weird and wonderful bottles, visit TWSA here today! The original feature is from the Autumn 2022 edition of Whiskeria, delivered to the door of W Club subscribers and also free with any Whisky Shop purchase in store or online.