James Bond, the ultimate British Secret Agent, is known for his good taste. Agent 007 saves the world in British tailor made suits and shirts, drives and destroys British luxury cars and superyachts where ever he goes, and calms down at the end of a long day in the field with a shot of Scotch whisky in a British crystal tumbler.
In this new webseries Bond Lifestyle takes a closer look at the ‘Made in Britain’ products used by Bond in the films and Ian Fleming novels.
With “Made In Britain” Bond Lifestyle refers to products of which the majority of the manufacturing process has taken place in the United Kingdom, meaning “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” (which includes Scotland and Wales).
In the first episode, we ask Chris Blade, Managing Director of Cumbria Crystal about the production of the Cumbria Crystal Grasmere tumbler seen in Casino Royale.
Product: Cumbria Crystal Grasmere Double Old Fashioned Tumbler
Seen in: Casino Royale (2006)
Used by: James Bond (Daniel Craig) when drinking whisky after the dramatic staircase fight in Hotel Splendide.
Trivia: The exact same whisky glasses are also seen in several episodes of the drama series Downton Abbey.
Still available? Yes
Price: £77 (approx. $110 or €105)
Can you tell us about the history of Cumbria Crystal?
Cumbria Crystal was founded in 1976 by Lord and Lady Cavendish along with a group of local business people. Lady Cavendish designed the Grasmere cut herself and it became the first range to ever feature on Cumbria Crystal’s shelves; it is still by far the most popular cut today. Next came the Helvellyn range. It quickly became the choice of all British Embassies across the globe and helped the company grow the reputation for quality and craftsmanship it enjoys today. With our focus on quality not quantity we have a business model that has enabled us to survive as the last remaining manufacturer of luxury full lead crystal in the UK.
What does Made in Britain mean in the case of Cumbria Crystal?
Being ‘Made in Britain’ is very important to us. It is quite rare today to come across a company where every aspect of the manufacturing process is carried out on home soil. We are proud to say that we achieve this. It is also reassuring for our customers, they know that their items have been made by incredibly skilled artisans, many with decades of training, whose sole aim is to produce crystal to the highest standards humanly possible.
Where is the Cumbria Crystal factory located?
The Cumbria Crystal Factory is located in Ulverston, on the very edge of The Lake District.
What is happening exactly inside the facility?
For 5-6 days of the week, our glass blowing teams mouth-blow traditional and contemporary crystal at 1150 degrees C. of 6 cutters and process workers applying the designs, cutting and polishing and ensuring exceptional quality standards are maintained. We have a Factory Outlet and a viewing area for visitors to watch our teams at work and buy our crystal. On some weekends we hold short courses for members of the public to learn creative sandblasting and diamond wheel cutting at both introductory and intermediate levels.
Are Cumbria Crystal tumblers completely made in Britain?
Yes. We melt the raw materials, hand-blow the crystal form, process the form, mark and cut the crystal, acid polish the top layer, carry out quality control and package for dispatch all in the same building.
When was the Grasmere Tumbler first made?
What is your yearly production of the Cumbria Crystal Grasmere tumblers?
That’s a difficult question but it runs into a few thousand. This does not sound many but considering each piece takes about 10 days to produce from start to finish and passes through at least 12 pairs of hands it is quite an achievement.
How many people are working at Cumbria Crystal?
What makes the Cumbria Crystal tumbler stand out from its competition?
Most glass purchased today is not hand-made but produced in huge quantities abroad. A few UK companies still blow crystal by hand, but most source production from abroad and work to different standards to Cumbria Crystal. We use only the highest quality crystal, produce everything by hand and demand only the highest level of craftsmanship. Our two stage hand cutting process involves initial cutting with diamond wheels and then finishing on a traditional sandstone wheel, this gives the crystal a sharpness and polish not achieved by other means and makes our glass sparkle more than competitors. I believe we are the last UK Company to still use this process
What are some of the advantages of producing in the UK?
British manufacture is associated with quality and craftsmanship for very good reason, because it represents the best. Drawing upon our unique glassmaking heritage and excellent creative talent means that customers can be assured that they are buying some of the best luxury crystal in the world.
What are some of the challenges of producing in the UK?
One of our challenges is that people often fail understand the huge difference between hand-made luxury crystal and cheaper alternatives. Unless a person has actually handled quality crystal they may not know what they have been missing – sharpness, quality design, high refractive index and sparkle, weight & heft. Much production has moved abroad to reduce costs, but with this comes the risk of reduced quality, poorer quality materials and of course the depletion of already rare skills from the workforce.
What is your favourite Bond film?
It has to be Casino Royale!
Who is your favourite James Bond actor?
Sean Connery (closely followed by Daniel Craig).