In the beginning there was the light. So begins the origin story of not just a whisky, but the whisky: The Glenlivet. In less than two-and-a-half minutes, a distinctly Scottish voice-over goes over the history that flows from the ice age to the Scottish glens and rivers, the 19th century distillery, the king who loved its whisky, and the master distillers of today. A masterful sequence of images follows the script. The wonders of nature, the history of the The Glenlivet and all of the elements that help create its flavour all find their place in an original, entertaining and beautiful commercial.
‘It’s a long, lyrical piece of poetry, essentially,’ says director Joe Roberts about the script. ‘When I was reading it, I thought: this is going to be really long. How do we shoot everything?’
What he and his crew did, was: go up to Scotland for two weeks and… shoot a lot of footage. ‘We took all sorts of cameras out with us and just drove about and filmed a lot of the rivers, a lot of the scenery, trying to chase the sun. We spent an afternoon trying to film a fox in the forest. We went to the archive, to the distillery, we went inside where they actually make the whisky and filmed as much as possible, but set up those shots so they’re not the typical “this is how you make whisky” shots.’
‘It’s a long, lyrical piece of poetry, essentially. ‘When I was reading it, I thought: this is going to be really long. How do we shoot everything?’
Aside from the fantastic footage, it’s the tone of the film that’s striking. ‘Let’s try and tell this story with a little bit of whimsy and make it still quite lyrical, but also not too serious,’ is how Joe describes his approach. ‘It’s a weird, fine line to walk. I wanted to make it quirky and unusual, while still going to the Speyside region. Find the things that stand out while still being close to the heritage and the history of the whisky. It all came together in the edit. It’s quite small, wry, British humour. A lot of props have to go to editor Will Judge for finding that tone. If you find it, it’s easy. I’m really happy that the agency didn’t want a 30-second version. It has to take its time.’
Just like whisky, really.