Scotch - A Golden Dram

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Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Scotch - A Golden Dram
"Scotch may be a talking heads production but it is made with a genuine feeling for the subject and a sense of responsibility that never settles comfortably into the safely of cliche."

A documentary about Scotland’s favourite tipple hits the barrier marked DON’T and there’s nothing you can do but grin and bear it. When someone tells you it was made by a Californian who lives in Taiwan, the word TORTURE comes to mind.

Snobbery and a whole lot of worse words, like BORE ME STUPID come scrabbling to the surface. Scotch may be a talking heads production but it is made with a genuine feeling for the subject and a sense of responsibility that never settles comfortably into the safely of cliche.

It could be criticised for staying too long on the Isle of Islay, as if everything here is a metaphor for what happens elsewhere. A local, Jim McEwan, who has worked for three distilleries, has been in the biz for more than 40 years. He doesn’t talk like The Man Who Knows Everything. He talks like your uncle, the one with a sense of humour.

Whisky making is an art form, from the barley grown as close as a shout away to the blending and the choice of barrels. You love it or you turn it out like a factory stable. Jim McEwan loves it. The art comes through like dreams of gold that don’t float away.

Director Andrew Peat uses talking heads - writers and blenders and people of note - which, for once, are worth listening to. The Scottish symbols are not flung in the air like tartan tammies at an independence rally. The care and attention to detail is handled straight down the line. You learn as you watch and all those feelings of dread that you experienced outside the cinema silver the lining of some kind of romance which may or may not last forever.

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2019
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The story of the whisky industry told through its most famous distillers and most ardent enthusiasts.

Director: Andrew Peat

Starring: Ian McMillan, Charlie Maclean.

Year: 2018

Runtime: 87 minutes

Country: UK, Taiwan

Festivals:

Glasgow 2019

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