Made by a small international team (Taiwan production company, American director, Indian cinematographer, and completely shot on location in Scotland), Scotch - A Golden Dream tells the story of Uisge beatha -- Gaelic for "water of life." Scotch is enjoyed in more than 200 countries, generating over $6 billion in exports each year. For more than a century, Scotch whisky has been the premier international spirit of choice. It is time to tell the story of "uisge" to the world. While capturing stunning Scottish landscapes, the real heart of our film is the characters - the fascinating people who make Scotch whisky. We explore some of the biggest names in the industry, including Richard Paterson, a master blender whose nose was insured for $2.5 million, Glasstorm, a company specializing in hand-made bottles for rare whiskies that sell for over $10,000 each, and Jim McEwan, the distiller and master blender, a 52-year industry veteran, who acts as our ambassador, guiding us to discover the ...Written by
Jim McEwan Came out of retirement in 2019 to help another distiller open in Islay. See more »
A Golden Dram Is All It Takes
I recently read that documentaries are growing in popularity. The reason for that is evident in watching Andrew Peat's most excellent film, "Scotch: A Golden Dream, also referred to as "The Golden Dram."
Please note that last word is "dram," not "dream." A dram is the quantity in which Scotch is served in Scotland (and likely elsewhere, to be sure.) But in watching this film, it becomes quite evident that having a sense of the dram is awfully important to Scots and the manner in which they consume their illustrious homegrown spirit. As a unit of measure it's rather technical, but with regard to the amount of Scotch whisky poured into a glass, (preferably designed specifically for this purpose) and adding just the right amount of spring water to it, the dram is quite important.
Mr Peat's documentary sets out to tell the story of Scotch, and to a great extent the national character of Scots, and succeeds in both respects. We see the Scottish Highlands, the Isle of Islay, the rivers and streams, the peat bogs so necessary in providing fuel to the distilleries, the magnificent Highland cattle, the people.
We meet many delightful and interesting Scots. They portray such a love of Scotch whisky and the culture in which it thrives. They are so sweet, so cultured, so charming, so funny, so not-about-getting-drunk-on booze, that even a teetotaler would want a dram to see what all the adulation is about.
We learn how Scotch whisky is made, to be sure, but in such a skillful way that it never once feels like a lesson. You might be surprised to find out how important American oak casks (recycled from casking bourbon) are in creating the Scotch whisky's taste and fragrance. You'll hear tales that will have you laughing out loud. You're also likely to frown when you learn how heavily the UK government taxes its most treasured produce.
But at the film's core, it's the story of Jim McEwan, who started in the business as a lad, an apprentice cooper, and retired 52 years on as a Master Distiller, ultimately responsible for every aspect of the whisky-maker's art.
Mr Peat, through varied interviews, recognizes that any story good enough to be told is more about people than things, and such is the case in this consistently charming and interesting documentary. It never lags, whether filming people, distilling equipment, or the beautiful Scottish landscapes. We slowly but inexorably come to the conclusion that today's story of Scotch is one that could not have been told without telling the story of Jim McEwan. "Scotch: A Golden Dram" is so good you don't even need to be a Scotch drinker to enjoy it.
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