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John Walker & Sons Voyager

Great harbours of the world

Superyacht hosts the global launch for a premium whisky brand

David Gandy Johnnie Walker

Travelling the great harbours of the world...

...aboard a 57 metre superyacht for the global launch of a new triple distilled malt whisky, the ‘John and Walker & Sons Odyssey’, we set sail from ShangHai, on a voyage that included Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Vietnam, Bangkok and Hong Kong, before heading out across the world to Europe to Portofino.

Joined by Bryan Ferry in Hong Kong, Blue Label brand ambassador David Gandy in Portofino, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese in Cannes for the film festival, we ended the succession of parties with a quick overnight stop in Monte Carlo just in time for the famous grand prix racing.

Highlights for me, the party in Hong Kong, with an amazing firework display across Victoria Harbour, and months later on the other side of the world at the Cannes Film Festival the unexpected appearance of Mr DiCaprio. We knew that ‘Leo' had been recruited as brand ambassador for a competitor's whisky brand, and it was a special delight getting pictures of him on our Johnnie Walker Blue Label repeat.

Editing pictures in my cabin for David Gandy’s Instagram, with the world’s top male model over my shoulder was fun: Never before have I had tens of thousands of likes within a matter of minutes.

Voyager, a beautiful classic design yacht with a distinct flavour of the east, carved dragons on the topsides fore and aft, had a huge sail plan unfurling about the acres of scrubbed teak deck and a crew made up of Australians and Filipinos that kept the boat perfect in every detail. Every night the very slightly marked white carpets that the guests had enjoyed treading all over the night before were ripped up, and new blemish free carpet laid, so that each morning the yacht was returned to pristine perfection for the next round of parties, announcements, discos, and promotional marketing, leaving the VIPs and other special guests to marvel at the beauty of the astonishing wood-panelled Johnnie Walker themed interior. Everywhere the John Walker & Sons logo on cushions, curtains, and items relating to the heritage of the brand for guests to appreciate.

Night after night in different harbours around Asia, the local great and the good would assemble to enjoy samples of the brand, dance, and enjoy a lesson in whisky from a master of the liquid, before the yacht then headed off across the world to tell her story and promote her whisky to some stunning harbours of the Mediterranean.

The key for me was being there, recording all around, but being careful to be as unobtrusive as possible. As well as being aware when to simply vanish into that deep-pile immaculate white carpet when taking pictures and having cameras dangling around your neck just wasn't quite right at that moment. I was working for the company, not a photojournalist to make a spread in a news magazine.