What is it about Scotland that conjures up such emotional and romantic notions? Of a land of ever-changing vistas and a people so genuine to call a ready friend? These are the thoughts after watching Andrew Peat’s film, Scotch – A Golden Dream.
One reason is the film’s subject, the ‘nectar of the gods’, ‘the blood of Scotland’ – the sublime spirit of whiskey that was born out of the country’s heartland. Yet it is not gods who produce this time-honoured amber gold, but normal people like you and me – alchemists if you like.
Scotch – A Golden Dream (or ‘Dram’ – whiskey in Gaelic) centres on these alchemists’ stories and weaves them throughout this telling of the distilling process, like a Sunday afternoon conversation — the farmers of the north who produce the finest barley, the distillers who work the fermenting process to turn a grain to liquid, the coopers who craft the best of woods for casks to flavour the spirit, the glassmakers who create one-off bottles (some reaching between £10,000 – £100,000) to show off for the highest bidder, to finally, the ambassadors and writers who report and educate eager consumers on each spirit’s flavoursome qualities.
Recently retired distillery manager Jim McEwan leads this cast of alchemists. He began in the trade as young as 15, working at the infamous Bowmore distillery on Islay, taking the reigns at a tender 22 years of age. In 2000, McEwan was asked to help resurrect the very-rundown Bruichladdich distillery across the bay from Bowmore. McEwan was in for a surprise – its machinery hadn’t been updated since the late 1880s. His years of experience and know-how would bring it back from the brink and turn it into a world-class, prize-winning distillery. In 2012, Remy Cointreau bought the Bruichladdich Distillery for £58m.
Scotch – A Golden Dream is a beautifully shot, yet humble, film that speaks to a passion at the heart of Scotland and its people. It’s a film dedicated to those women and men who put their soul into every barrel.
About Scotch – A Golden Dream
Directed and Produced by Andrew Peat
Produced by Maria Chen
Lead characters: Jim McEwan, Dr Bill Lumsden, Ian MacMillan, Charles MacLean, Richard Paterson