A well-made documentary. It follows one person and you need that in this kind of a film to give it focus. It was well-rounded, and you learn a lot about the different aspects of making and appreciating whiskey – a total contrast to some wine documentaries I have seen where you basically learn nothing and follow a bunch of snobs around tasting wine. It does boast its own version of Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, and the Duke of Argyll. More importantly, you see the beautiful landscape of the Highlands and listen to the beautiful voices of the Scots.
It’s hard not to be swept away by the alluring tale of a humble legacy.
The ultimate documentary for lovers of Scotch whisky.
The art of distilling Uisge Beatha, the Water of Life, has been perfected over many centuries in Scotland. The earliest documented record is from 1494, in the tax records of the day. And over the years, whisky became an intrinsic part of Scottish life – a reviver and stimulant during the long, cold winters, and a feature of social life, a welcome to be offered to guests upon their arrival. For over 100 years, Scotch whisky has been the premier international spirit of choice.
The director wanted to carefully craft a beautiful film which honours the history and the art behind this most extraordinary product, to provide insight into the process and the fascinating people who create the golden elixir. The film’s interviewees are a mix of whisky experts and tradesfolk.
The notion of Scotland as a tartan-touting, underdog nation of passionate personalities is apparent, but at the film’s heart lies the charming story of master distiller – and storyteller – Jim McEwan. On the Hebridean Isle of Islay with 53 years of whisky-making under his belt, McEwan has spent his life in the grip of the golden stuff, and he’s about to retire. Everyone has a good word to say about him, while Jim himself grumbles about how loosely the words ‘master distiller’ and ‘master blender’ are bandied about these days. You can say that when you’ve been living and breathing whisky since your teens.
UK 2019, 88 min, rated PG (coarse language)
Directed by Andrew Peat