“Scotch, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down. Down into my belly.” Does that ring a bell? Bien sûr! Of course you remember that legendary film called Anchorman starring Will Ferrell. A marvellous comedy remembered for its hilarious whisky moment, this scene has particularly lived on in memory. Every time we hear the word “Scotch”, this jingle serves as an entertaining reminder of our favourite dram.
This renowned spirit’s journey can be traced back to the 15th century when the Scots learned how to build a spirit using water, barley, and yeast from the monks, through the early Colonial era, the times of prohibition, and the booming craft-distilling. It is an art being perfected for about 600 years now.
Scotch and Cinema
Scotland’s national drink and enjoyed globally, Scotch whisky today has evolved to be the premium international drink of choice in over 200 countries across the world. In the past years with the growing distilleries, whisky tourism has become immensely popular, and the spirit has made a demographic shift, and gained popularity among women, and the eligible, younger lot as much.
Just as beer is to Germans and wine is to the French, Scotch whisky has been an integral part of not only the history and culture of Scotland, but of art and cinema as much. It is no surprise then that whisky has adorned some of cinema’s best scenes and been a frequent theme in films, and advertisements. Imagine the famous Hollywood star, Humphrey Bogart, best known for the iconic movie, Casablanca saying his prominent last words, “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis”. Or the legendary Sean Connery starring in “You Only Live Twice”, with a glass of whisky in one hand, glorifying the 40 year old golden liquid.
For many, Scotch has long been seen as a way to combat the blues and resolve personal challenges. The memorable Harrison Ford pointed at the bottle and said, “I only drink it on special occasions”, in the movie, Morning Glory. His detective character in the classic movie, Blade Runner (1982), would’ve been somewhat incomplete without the whisky in hand while on the case.
Scotch and Art
Besides cinema, Scotch’s connection with art and alchemy is much celebrated. Many artists and art galleries are collaborating with renowned Scotch whisky brands. Together they are launching distinctive artist editions of varied gift packs and creative packaging while keeping the Scottish influence as a common theme.
Art in Glass and Bottle
In fact, there is a lot to a bottle and a glass-- the quintessential duet which is an overture to the flowing of the illustrious spirit. However, in the age gone by, glass was very expensive until about the 1800s and bottles were a niche item to own. The population bought whisky then by bringing their own bottles that they filled from casks, and then emptied the contents into decanters at home.
This changed when the price of glass reduced in the 19th century, and whisky blenders gravitated towards serving whisky from glass bottles.
As a connoisseur, enthusiast or a collector, the appearance and presentation does play an important role. The design plays an important role for branding and sales. From the simple and subtle to embossed bottles, to using unconventional components such as wood and fabric, whisky brands are exploring inventive ways to create a niche for their products. Tweaking these bottle designs helps the brand stand out in a competitive market.
From unique Japanese art on Japanese whisky bottles, to beautiful calligraphy on Scotch bottle labels, every bottle tells a story. This artsy connection also extends to photo exhibitions. Take photographer, Ernie Button for instance who found inspiration for his exhibition from the whisky remnants in his glass from the previous night.
This tipple has not only won the hearts of imbibers, but is widely celebrated in the realms of art and cinema. As the world gears up for the upcoming International Scotch Day on February 8 2017, we can’t help but think of what Mark Twain rightly said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whisky is barely enough”.
‘Whisky Classified’ throws a new light on single malt appreciation. Thanks to author David Wishart who removes the confusing jargon so often used to describe single malt, and reveals an easy-to-apply guide to tasting.
The Glenlivet — “The single malt that started it all,” says the tagline. Indeed, the label goes as far back as 1824. Established in Moray, Scotland, the Glenlivet distillery has been operating almost continuously since its inception, through the Great Depression of the 1930s and interrupted only by World War II in 1939. However, it emerged after the war even stronger, and grew to become the second largest selling single malt brand in the world. In the United States, it is the biggest selling brand of single malt whisky.
Peat Smoke and Spirit: The Story of Islay and Its Whiskies
“The ocean bears down on Laphroaig with unrivalled glee; its warehouse walls are regularly flayed with kelp, and the distillery manager’s sitting-room windows have been on every occasion I have visited, sticky with brine,” says Andrew Jefford, from Norfolk, England. A poet and journalist, Jefford is also a man who understands spirits. While he began his career as an editor for Octopus Publishing Group, he soon started writing the spirit column of The Evening Standard, and a bi-monthly column for Decanter. His passion for spirits compelled him to write a number of books on wine, and just one so far on the whiskies from Islay. While some think that is partly a travelogue and partly a historical account, well-knit with myths, and stories of great adventure, there is no denying that the book primarily documents smoked and peated whiskies from Islay in details, as the title suggests.