Voucher Copies

February 22nd, 2016
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Every invoice we send out for a picture sale contains the same wording: ‘Please send two voucher copies to fotoLibra at 22 Mount View Road’ and with a very few honourable exceptions it is routinely ignored. Of course we can’t enforce it; most of the time we’re more than happy just to have made the sale.

But a line has to be drawn somewhere. And this is it. We have been providing the images for the labels on a series of rather upmarket Scotch whiskies recently. Each whisky has been paired with a famous author. So far we have sold them images of Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Gustave Flaubert and Alexandre Dumas. But not Marcel Proust. I don’ t think Proust was much of a whisky drinker, more of a crème de menthe merchant.

Here’s one of the bottles with the fotoLibra image on the label:


And here’s what they have to say about this particular malt:

“This Authors’ Series is a range of limited edition and exclusive single malt whisky, created by the prestigious blenders and bottlers, Hunter Laing Ltd. Each whisky has been paired with a famous author, ensuring that the unique taste and character of the malt has been inspired by the author’s life and work. Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling & Edgar Allan Poe are the first three expressions that have been released.

“This particular expression is an Ardbeg 21 year old, matured in 1993 and bottled in January 2015. This limited edition whisky is one of only 120 bottles, which have been drawn from a Refill Hogshead cask, and bottled at natural cask strength of 56.4%. Ardbeg fans will not be disappointed, as this rich and peaty expression has all the typical Islay attributes, whilst the the character of Rupert Kipling shines through. Charles MacLean said: ‘Deep amber in colour with moderate beading. The first aroma is of lanolin and damp, untreated wool, even a hint of sheep dip, with roast chestnuts in the background. Oily and surprisingly sweet to taste, with fragrant woodsmoke in the aftertaste. Faintly waxy with a drop of water, backed by charred wood. Smooth and sweet, with hessian and washed out creosote.’

“Each bottle is presented in a brown leather box, embossed with gold medallic text, which adds to the luxurious feel of the product. The bottles are also individually wax sealed with a stylish monogram design.”

I’ve been sitting by the front door since January last year waiting for our two voucher copies to drop on to the mat, but bizarrely enough they have failed to materialise.

I think I may have discovered why. This particular whisky costs £900. Per Bottle! And it’s not even a litre! That’s €1,150, or $1,275. Blimey.

Because it’s not a whisky, it’s an Expression.



Leave a Reply for Gwyn


28 Responses to “Voucher Copies”

  1. Um? So how do they know that Rudyard Kipling smelled like that? And didn’t he have a close friend who could have told him? Mind you, maybe the creosote whiffiness was coal tar soap.

    • Gwyn says:

      Wright’s Coal Tar Soap! The only good thing about school (where one of the houses was called Kipling, because he went the United Services College at Westward Ho! which got swallowed up by my school, so they claimed Kipling as an Old Boy) was the soap.

      • Mark Goodwin LRPS says:

        I love Wright’s Coal Tar Soap and still buy it today from my local Waitrose. Unfortunately, my wife hates it and i have to keep it in the main bathroom, and not allowed in en suite! 🙂

  2. black dog says:

    Rupert Kipling? I feel like a complete illiterate now: I don’t have any of his books.

    Maybe I need some more “Expression” in liquid form? But at that price, I think I’ll pass.

  3. Chris says:

    Well I never was partial to sheep dip so count me out on this round please!

  4. Erik Strodl says:

    fascinating….you could get some of those smells for free and still have a clear head!

    The longer a whiskey matures it evaporates that’s why bottles of whiskey with years of maturity are higher in cost.
    “Lake of Menteith” hotel has a whiskey cellar…damn good hotel and wonderful food too……most expensive whiskey
    Glengoyne 40 Year Old 45.9% ABV (94/100
    £450 opening shot and £220 each successive shot (25mls)
    What !!

    • Gwyn says:

      The Angel’s Share! So have you tried it?

    • Bernard Northmore says:

      Aaah, if only it was indeed whiskey rather than the (to my taste) far inferior whisky. To be sure.

      • Gwyn Headley says:

        You can’t possibly say it’s far inferior! I yield to no-one in my admiration for Wild Turkey, Maker’s Mark and their brethren, but single malt Scotch whiskies should be classed among the wonders of the world for their variety alone.

  5. Brenda Skinner says:

    Gwyn, I wonder… if I purchased a photo from you and put a classy label on my Skinner’s Pond Nearly World Famous Seville Orange Marmalade, AND added some nonsense about the various tastes consumers might experience… do you think I could sell it for an outrageously inflated price?

    • Gwyn says:

      Absolutely! Of course the Seville oranges will each have to have been hand-picked by luscious, barely legal youth from one especial, minute estate in the most expensive part of Seville, then lovingly hand-shredded by yourself … I’ll have to stop now, it’s time for breakfast.

  6. Peter Cope says:

    The price is even more amazing when, according to paragraph 2 of the blurb this malt has the character of Rudyard Kipling’s lesser known brother RUPERT!

  7. Geoff France says:

    Don’t like the sound of the washed out creosote. I think I’ll stick with Grants – £17 a litre at Sainsbury’s yesterday.

  8. Antony McCallum says:

    Japanese whisky is in the ascendant – they’ve been working on it since 1924 and it’s mostly more than expensive – hope you’ve got some images of Yasunari Kawabata, Miyamoto Musashi, Kurosawa Akira, Takuma Sawabe and the like ready!!

  9. Bill Lee says:

    Seems like a very odd Rudyard Coupling

  10. Terence Chan says:

    I don’t really get the point of this story, because of a crucial gap in my understanding: what exactly is a voucher copy and what is its purpose?

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      That’s a very interesting question, because I hadn’t really thought about it myself. What DOES a voucher copy mean? I’m hazarding a guess here — and others may put me right — but in educational publishing, schools could ask for free ‘voucher copies’ of new text books to evaluate them before placing substantial orders. A free sample, if you like. In the picture library world it is proof of the usage purchased of the image. If the buyer had purchased these images saying they were for ‘Personal Use — One-off’, then used them for the labels on his whisky bottles, then clearly he would be abusing the rights he purchased. So it’s by way of a check.
      All I was after was two bottles of rather agreeable Scotch. Fat chance.