Who doesn’t love a whisky? In movies there’s tie ins and collaborations, from Glendronach and Johnnie Walker releasing whiskies with Kingsman and Blade Runner respectively, brands will make appearances such as Macallans appearance in Skyfall.
In TV series you have the likes of the fake Glengulie Blue of Archer, and Glencallan (no doubt a hint to both Glenlivet and Macallan) being the fake whisky of choice for TV series such as Community, Agents of Shield and Sons of Anarchy, Ron Swanson loves Lagavulin so much he buys half the distillery.
But while whisky is a fixtures through so much movies focusing on it, or even giving more than a passing glance are few and far between.
Recently some news broke with the trailer of The Man Who Walked Around The World, a documentary about Johnnie Walker from a Grocery Store in Kilmarnock to a Global Icon.
It looks to be something damn interesting, but why should Johnnie Walker have all the fun? A massive icon of whisky there is more to the whisky world than what Mr. Walker represents, so I’ve taken the time to sit down, rewatch some classic films and let you know what to watch before we learn all about Johnnie Walker on November 12th. Comedies and documentaries alike, these are all fantastic films to sit down and watch with a bottle of whisky.
The Angels Share
My favourite whisky movie and one of my favourite films in general, Ken Loachs The Angels share is sad, comedic, bitter and a feel good movie, at least by the end.
Our hero Robbie swears off crime after holding his new-born son, vowing to be there for his wee baby and his wife. Narrowly escaping a prison sentence and ordered to community service, through there he discovers the magical world of whisky, from the lowest dram all the way to the mythical Malt Mill.
It’s got whisky, comedy, great acting and directing, cameos from different distilleries and even Charlie Maclean joins in at one point in time, this is a film that’s worth taking the time to sit down with.
We’re talking about the 1949 version here, while the 2016 remake is something it cant really stand up to the original. That’s through no fault of its own, the original is just an amazing film.
It’s 1943 and until now the inhabitants of Todday in the Outer Hebrides have not felt the effects of war rationing, until the worst happens. The whisky runs out. As the island falls into despair and gloom the SS Cabinet Minister runs aground, and after saving some of the crew the islanders discover the ships secret, she was holding 50,000 bottles of whisky. Now the whisky is caught between the islanders who want to drink it and the Home Guard who want to return it, and only the islanders wits will see them (and their whisky) through.
It’s a whisky movie that should be on every bodies list, as should the 1943 novel on which the movie is based. While names and places have been changed it does hold true to the original story, which itself was based on a thrilling true event which you can read more about here.
The Amber Light
‘The story of whisky is familiar one’ indeed. Dave Broom has done it all, writing some of whiskies most beloved books seeming not enough he entered the film game with his entry delving into how not the business of whisky but the love and culture surrounding it has shaped Scotland.
Calling it a film takes away from the informative nature, but calling it a documentary doesn’t fit right either. It’s every whisky drinkers dream, travelling to different places, sites, distilleries, talking to people about whisky endlessly over a few drams.
Dave Broom articulates all the questions we want answers to in this ode and love letter to whisky and to Scotland, taking its place proudly on the shelf right next to your favourite bottle. And if this isn’t enough for you then Dave has launched a YouTube channel recently were you can head over and watch his chitter and chatter away about whisky.
Neat: The Story of Bourbon
A list about whisky and films about it cant be complete without an American entry, and Neat: The Story of Bourbon is just that. The documentary dives into the relationship between America and it’s national spirit, how the two are intertwined and, similar to the Scotch and Scottish identity, cannot be truly separated.
Weirdly enough it has been said that this movie was the answer to The Amber Light, yet Neat: The Story of Bourbon was released a whole year earlier. There is no denying the similarities though, the love that everyone in the documentary expresses and the sheer excitement when they get to educate people and bring new faces into the bourbon fold leaves you feeling excited to dive more deeply into the history of your drink.
So there you have it, the cream of the crop of the world of whisky films. Time to sit down, settle in, and have a watch until we get to hear from Mr. Walker.