Whisky and art unite to help back River Dee campaign

A leading Scottish artist has joined forces with a new Highland whisky distillery to raise awareness and funds for one of the country’s most ambitious nature-restoration projects.

To celebrate its launch, the Burn o’ Bennie Distillery collaborated with Peter Howson to commission a unique series of major oil paintings and sketches entitled The World is on Fire, on the theme of the environment.

The Banchory distillery has also produced a rare and old whisky series to support the River Dee’s #milliontrees campaign.

The trees will help save endangered species including the river’s iconic salmon by shading the water against dangerously rising temperatures.

Special, limited-edition prints of Howson’s work are being sold alongside numbered bottles of the rare whisky, provided by the distillery to raise funds for the nationally-recognised restoration scheme.

Peter Howson’s sketch “The World is on Fire”, which will be sold at auction to raise funds to help the River Dee

And the art-whisky initiative will culminate in the auction next year of an original preparatory Howson sketch, along with the first of the limited bottles of 30-year-old Aberfeldy from a single cask. A leading auction house will be conducting the sale, and has valued the joint lot at £5500.

This is the first in a series of sponsorship initiatives by Burn o’ Bennie Distillery, with a total value of more than £100,000 to help plant a million native trees along the Dee’s tributaries.

The distillery’s co-founder Liam Pennycook said: ‘Whisky is known as the water of life, and the life of the river which flows past us is under threat. We are delighted to be able to help the River Dee Trust deliver such an important project, and to collaborate with Peter Howson on such a critical theme for us all.’

Describing his main painting, Peter Howson said: ‘Two children are guiding humanity through the wasteland of devastation, suffocating smoke and heat, in an industrial nightmare. My vision is a hopeful one and pays tribute to the young people leading the way towards saving the planet.’

A bottle of the rare, 30-year-old Aberfeldy whisky, which will be sold to raise funds to restore the River Dee

Sandy Bremner who chairs the River Dee Trust said: ‘We are in a race against time to help the river adapt to rising temperatures. We are making good progress but funding is a constant challenge, so we are extremely grateful for this generous support. It will help us deliver on our ambitious plans.’

The 30-year-old whisky has been described as ‘A magnificent Aberfeldy’ by Charles MacLean, who is considered to be one of Scotland’s leading whisky writers and a world authority on the subject.

Anyone interested in registering an interest in purchasing a numbered bottle of the Aberfeldy with a limited-edition Howson print contact Burn o’ Bennie Distillery.

The River Dee Trust also wishes to thank Charles Beamish of Beamish International for his continued support and advice on all whisky matters, and Gordon Robertson of Robertson Fine Art for his assistance with this project.