Scotch: A Golden Dream

Scotch: A Golden Dream is an hour-and-a-half documentary about the making of Scotch whisky and its many traditions. With views of green pastures, amber liquid, and Scottish activities and outfits, it opens in a relaxing mood and continues in the same style, building layers of knowledge revolving around one particular master of the drink. Finished a couple of years ago, the movie will be available on demand on May 7. (Since I previously watched Neat: The Story of Bourbon, I’m liking this trend.)

Jim McEwan was for years production director of a distillery on Islay, a Scottish island. He was in the business for more than 50 years after starting at age 15 and ended up becoming an ambassador for the company, the beverage, and the region. Given unique soil, local barley farmers, and peat smoking, Scotch is a point of pride for the country.

Scotch: A Golden Dream

It’s fun hearing the various stories about starting in the business from different people whose professions involve the drink, including when they first tasted whisky, in those terrific accents. We learn about fermentation, distillation, cask making and selection, and the rest of the spirit-making process. (Most barrels come from being used for American bourbon, I was interested to note, because their rules require new barrels, but for Scotch, they like reuse.) Those who, unlike me, know something about Scotch may find mentions of the various brands and distilleries more enlightening. But I still was entranced by the stories.

Beyond the making, there’s a whole segment on “women and whisky” that explores the stereotypes about strong liquor being a man’s thing, from viewpoints of both consumers and industry participants. After a brief segment on how unfairly the production region is taxed, there are a series of lessons on how to “nose” and taste whisky and a debate on what age to aim for drinking. Scotch: A Golden Dream made me want to try some. Here’s the trailer:

(The distributor provided an online review copy.)

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