Scotch on Screen

A glass of scotch

From blockbuster movies to hit TV shows, whisky remains a staple prop on screen, giving the characters who sip it a sense of sophistication and strength. But which brands are best enjoyed on camera? We take a look at some of the most iconic whisky scenes on screen.

We often see whiskies that dot our own alcohol shelves popping up in a wide range of films, from a haunting glass of Jack Daniels in The Shining through to Ron Burgundy ordering three fingers of The Glenlivet in Anchorman. With a bottle of 30-year-old Glenfiddich even turning up in Star Trek Beyond, it is clear that whisky is one of the most popular on-screen beverages.

The whisky hype certainly isn’t limited to films. Real life whisky fan Nick Offerman’s Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson is also a big fan of all things Scotch. In one episode, the character is seen embarking on an adventure across the UK to reach the distillery in which his favourite brand, Lagavulin, is produced.

While whisky is seen in the hands of many an onscreen character, there are some scenes and characters that are iconic for their relationship with Scotch. Here are a few of our favourites:

Dalmore 62 in Kingsman: The Secret Service

If whisky brings an air of sophistication to its drinker, then it is certainly no surprise that the suave spies that make up the Kingsman Secret Service are fans of Scotch. The expertly tailored suits may give it away, but the dapper chaps are appreciative of the finer things in life, which undoubtedly extends to the tumbler of Dalmore 62 that Agent Lancelot saves from smashing during an ambush. Expertly stopping the baddies, he then stands with the dram in hand and declares that “it’d be a shame to spill any”. As the Dalmore 62 last sold at auction for $200,000, making it one of the most expensive bottles of whisky in the world, it absolutely would be a shame to spill any!

Catch the action here:

 The Macallan 1962 in Skyfall

While James Bond is best known for his infamous vodka martini, “shaken not stirred”, Bond has enjoyed his fair share of other alcoholic drinks over the years, including the odd glass of whisky. Sean Connery’s Bond sipped on Suntory while in Japan, and throughout the 90s, Connery himself advertised the whisky brand.

While 007 then took a drinking detour to sip everything from Champagne to Heineken, and even swapping to Cuban cigars instead in Die Another Day, the James Bond whisky connections have continued into the modern instalments, with the Macallan featuring in Skyfall. The most striking whisky scene involves Raoul Silva, the villain of the movie, offering our favourite spy a dram of 50-year-old Macallan, which he understands to be “a particular favourite’ of Bond’s. The shot glass is then placed upon the head of Severine, the Bond girl, and James is directed to shoot it off. Declaring it a ‘waste of Scotch’, Bond deliberately misses. Based on this scene, the cast were asked to sign a bottle of The Macallan 1962, which was then sold at auction for charity, gaining almost £10,000!

Check out Bond in action:

 Lost In Translation

A Hollywood in-joke from Connery’s links to Suntory whisky is played up in Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation. The film sees Bill Murray playing an ageing actor called Bob Harris who has sold out on a $2 million deal to advertise Suntory whisky in Japan. Letting the Bond connection run deeper, the adverts photographer requests that Harris pose with his whisky glass like Roger Moore’s Bond. Harris wryly remarks that he would always think of Sean Connery as Bond.

See the scene here:

On-Screen Brands

While some films and shows, like the ones mentioned above, use real whisky brands in their shots, many directors make efforts to avoid any issues regarding advertising and product placement regulations. In the past, filmmakers may have opted to sneakily cover up the brand names of the whisky bottle they were using by turning the label away from the camera, or with a well-positioned hand.

In more recent years, however, studios have taken to making their own fake whisky brands to avoid any disputes. The most famous of these fakes is the legendary Glencallan. Despite not being a real whisky, a bottle of this particular Scotch has featured in numerous shows, including Sons of Anarchy, Grey’s Anatomy, Community, The Mindy Project and Nip/Tuck. There are many other fictional whisky brands, such as Clyburn, which is featured in The Dark Knight, or MacCutcheon whisky on the TV series Lost.

When real whisky is used in films and TV shows, the most popular is The Glenlivet, followed by Johnnie Walker Black Label.

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