New bottles in old Garments: the return of the Moon birds (for my English speaking friends)

At the end of the 80s the Italian bottler Moon Import launched a whole series of eye-catching whiskies under the name "Birds". Special features were the beautiful labels with historical bird drawings, which gave the series its name. Even today, the Bowmore 1964/1987 or Ardbeg 1966/1987 bring a sparkle to the eyes of the connoisseurs. Now the birds have returned.

New "Birds" bottlings by Alos

Careful observers have already spotted them. A few days ago, a new range of bottlings hit the market which is not only incredibly beautiful, but also evokes great memories of old times: "Birds". And also the content dates back to older times, as all whiskies come from the year 1988, one even from 1975.

Whoever makes such a series must  be a true whisky geek, and it didn’t come as a real surprise to me, when I found out who is behind these bottlings. But what did come as a surprise was the story of these labels.


"ALOS" (Antique Lions of Spirits) is a corporate project by three men who have devoted themselves to the world of whisky for decades: Massimo (Max) Righi from the Italian company Whisky Antique, Diego Sandrin from Lions Whisky and Jens Drewitz from Sansibar Whisky.

To say that Max Righi is a whisky trader from Formigine wouldn’t do him justice. I’d rather describe his business as a spirits museum that offers the opportunity to purchase the bottles. In 2010, he became the owner of the Silver Seal and Sestante brands, which have built up a strong reputation for high quality bottlings in the past. With less than 20,000 bottles per year, Silver Seal is one of the smaller independent bottlers in terms of quantity, but one of the top brands in the industry.

Old "Birds" bottlings by Moon

Diego Sandrin began collecting his first whisky bottles as early as 1979. After living in the USA for quite some time, he returned to his home country in 2001. Today, his whisky collection includes probably more than 15,000 bottles. His company Lions Whisky specializes in the sale of old bottlings.

Jens Drewitz has been a whisky geek for almost two decades and has also made a name for himself as an independent bottler with his company "Sansibar Whisky" in the recent past. His passion is mainly old bottlings and good whisky made for drinking rather than collecting.

Together, these three men have now launched the first set of the new Birds series. Jens was primarily responsible for the barrel selection, Diego for labeling and logo development and Massimo for the boxing design.

A treasure lost and found

No question, the three have enough expertise and relationships to get such a project going. But sometimes you also need a bit of luck to lay your hands on such legendary labels.

The original printing plates, which Moon Import had used at that time, were considered lost for years. It is thanks to Diego Sandrin that they now re-emerged again. While walking along the beach, he came across an antique shop. When he had a closer look at them, he realised that they were the long-missed plates once used for the old Moon labels. What a glorious moment that must have been!

So we are glad that whisky collectors sometimes happen to go for a walk on the beach - who knows, maybe this series would never have come to life otherwise. And neither would all the series, which are yet to come. The original prints for the famous "Animals", "Costumes" and "Cars" series by Moon for example, which had also been regarded as lost, were found as well in the package.

In keeping with the age of the label, all of the series' bottlings - except for the Speyside Malt - date back to 1988, when the Birds series of Moon-Import caused a sensation. Jens wanted to give "an illustration of the excellent drinking quality of whisky from the year 1988," as he told me when I asked, and the series aims at "connoisseurs, collectors and lovers of interesting life-style products alike". In addition, a special highlight was added with a Whisky from 1975 - a 41 year old Speysider from a Fino Sherry Butt.

The series was recently inroduced in Glasgow. In Germany the bottlings will be presented at the Limburg and Nuremberg whisky fairs at the Sansibar booth.

Speyside Regional Malt, 41 years, "Birds" by Alos

We can't turn the clock back to the good old whisky-times of the past. But sometimes we can keep a few good parts and chunks of those times alive. Thanks to Jens for sharing this truly amazing story of these extraordinary labels with me, which I gladly share with you.

Available bottlings:

Mannochmore 28 y, 1988, 47.9%, Ex Bourbon Barrel, 267 bottles

Fettercairn, 28 y, 1988, 50.6%, Ex Boubon Barrel, 292 bottles

Glen Moray 28 y, 1988, 45.1%, Ex-Bourbon-Barrel, 216 bottles

Tormore 28 y, 1988, 50.4%, Ex-Bourbon-Barrel, 254 bottles

Blair Athol 28 y, 1988, 51.1%, Ex-Bourbon-Barrel, 262 bottles

Speyside Region Malt, 41 y, 1975, 46.9%, Fino-Sherry-Butt, 230 bottles

links of interest:


Further reading:

Interview with Jens Drewitz, Sansibar Whisky


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