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Rishan is in a white tutu and crown and sits next to a whisky barrel tying her ballet shoes

‘The Snow Queen’ Highland Park whisky cask

Scottish Ballet lay down ‘The Snow Queen’ Highland Park whisky cask in legacy gift from former Chair of the Board

Scottish Ballet are delighted to announce a unique cask of ‘The Snow Queen’ Highland Park whisky has been laid down to begin maturing at the Orkney based distillery. Once matured, the single malt Scotch Whisky is expected to produce Highland Park’s signature style, a balance of heather honey sweetness, winter spices and aromatic peat smoke. The whisky cask will be sold at auction in 25 years’ time in aid of Scottish Ballet’s Endowment Fund, and in celebration of Scottish Ballet’s 75th anniversary year.

Former Chair of the Board Norman Murray CBE and his wife Pam leave this special legacy gift to support the future of Scotland’s national dance company. Norman successfully led the Scottish Ballet board of directors for seven years from 2013 – 2020 and is a former Chairman of The Edrington Group, parent company of Highland Park who have also been sponsors of Scottish Ballet. This legacy gift is inspired by the success of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ cask of Royal Lochnagar Whisky laid to rest in 1994 by Lord MacFarlane, Chairman of United Distillers and former Deputy Chairman of Scottish Ballet. Scottish Ballet, Whisky Auctioneer and Diageo awakened ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ whisky cask after 26 years, raising £210k at auction in 2021. 

Artist Gerard M Burns was commissioned to create a cask end painting based on Scottish Ballet dancer Rishan Benjamin. Inspired by an original image captured by photographer Mihaela Bodlovic the painting depicts Rishan Benjamin in The Snow Queen costume from Scottish Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. 

Pam and I are delighted to lay down this unique Highland Park Snow Queen cask which like Scottish Ballet and Artist Gerard Burns are renowned and respected locally and internationally, having been crafted by Scotland. Along with many other supporters we aim to ensure the sustainability of the Company who can perform with acclaim from the Kennedy Center in Washington DC to a community centre in Orkney. We value our relationship with Scottish Ballet and all they accomplish by inspiring on stage and beyond

Norman Murray, Former Chair of Scottish Ballet board

Rishan stands on her tip toes posing in between barrels in a whisky distillery

Scottish Ballet dancer Rishan Benjamin in the Orkney Highland Park Whisky Distillery. Photography by Rimbaud Patron

The opportunity to be involved in this wonderful project builds on a long-established relationship between myself and Scottish Ballet. A relationship which has resulted in the creation of a series of very beautiful artworks. The idea that these paintings will be part of a new collaboration stretching years into the future is obviously super exciting. Hopefully what I’ve created will enhance what is already an amazing project.

Gerard M Burns, Artist

Rishan and Gerard pose next to the whisky barrel within the distillery

Scottish Ballet dancer Rishan Benjamin and Artist Gerard Burns with 'The Snow Queen' whisky cask. Photography by Rimbaud Patron

“I am really excited about being a part of this special project, this is my first experience of having my portrait painted and I can’t wait to show my family and friends the final result. I love the thought of coming back to visit Scottish Ballet in 25 years to celebrate with new and familiar faces.” 

Rishan Benjamin, Scottish Ballet First Artist

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