Malt at the Movies




Friday 14th March 2014
Carlton House Club 
High Street

 Following the success of our third malt tasting event,  Malt Masterchef  we decided to change the format once again and went for something completely different.
Our Malt Whisky aficianado, John Ferris, recently watched a new Ken Loach Film called "The Angels' Share" and the storyline sparked an idea in John's mind, giving him the inspiration to do something which we reckon had never been done before.   Could we show the film and run a whisky tasting in conjunction with the script - it was feasible but could it actually be done?   If we could, we reckon we had a winner and possibly be a World First - assuming we could make it work.

The movie which was on general release in 2012, had won the Cannes Jury Prize and is real freewheeling social-realist comedy caper which appeals to all.    Ken Loach is probably more famous for his early classic Kes (1969), and many critics compare this latest offering favourably to what had been considered a legendary film in the late 60s. 

Made using primarily non-professionals: his leading man is newcomer Paul Brannigan, playing Robbie, a young Glasgow criminal who finds himself sentenced to repaint a community centre with a bunch of lawbreaking dopes and dorks: Mo (Jasmin Riggins), Rhino (William Ruane) and Albert (Gary Maitland).

The supervisor, Harry (John Henshaw), is a kindly soul who has a connoisseur's passion for whisky, and out of the goodness of his heart takes them on an outing to a distillery. Miraculously, Robbie turns out to have a "nose" – an untrained discerning judgment of whisky not too dissimilar to Billy's bird-training ability in Kes.   With pressures of a new family life and a desire to get as far away as he can from his past which will either force him into a criminal future or worse, he finda that he is becoming more knowledgeable about the Water of Life.    Learning that some whisky evaporates in the cask – the so-called "angels' share" – and his burgeoning knowledge of 'The Cratur' may just help him achieve his dream of a life on the straight and narrow.  Not unsurprisingly, the unreconstructed criminal in him wonders how he can get his share.

Could we link a whisky tasting event to the film?   You bet we could and with the help of some of the distilleries and a number of other people, the idea became a reality when around 70 people joined us for Malt at the Movies.   The film screening was free with tasting tickets costing a mere £20 for the 50 or so who also wanted to 'join the cast' in their quest for knowledge of Malt Whisky.

The Big screen was lowered, side screens were set up (to display the tasting information), popcorn put out on the tables, glasses of water place and the doors opened to our 'public'.   Those taking part in the tasting event were given the now mandatory 'Glencairn Nosing Glass" and everyone had their Auction Bidding Card - back of the tickets to anyone who didn't come along.   The table were numbered in theme (Screen 1 rather than Table 1) and an excited (OK I am using literary privelege) audience took their seats.

After a short introduction by President Trevor Aldred, the event got under way with our 'Pearl & Dean' Ad clip featuring a number of whisky related adverts from around the world.   The clips were put together by our friends in the Phonebox and it opened with the Lions logo and a pretty noisy roar, reminiscent of the MGM intro.  One of our ads featured the history of Johnnie Walker so what better way to introduce our whiskies, but bring out Johnnie Walker Black Label - not a malt in itself but a blend of over 40 malt and grain whiskies.

The main feature saw us rolling out Springbank (10 Y/o), Deanston (12 Y/o), Glengoyne (12 Y/o), Lagavulin (16 Y/o), Cragganmore (12 Y/o) & Balblair 2003 at the appropriate times, controlled by our 'knob man' Lion Bob Benbow who was following the script and changing the side screens to prompt our pourers and waiters to 'get the next dram out on the tables'.

The response from the audience as the film progressed certainly suggested that they were enjoying themselves thoroughly with peals of laughter, sighs of sympathy and all the emotions which the Director was intending to capture.   The addition of our Whisky samples certainly added significantly to the nights entertainment although those who were there purely for the viewing, certainly had a whale of a time. 

Key to the plot was the whisky auction in which a £1m cask of rare whisky was being sold off and which was the target of our intrepid foursome.   As we wanted to keep as close to the storyline as possible, we too had an auction - but our budget didn't quite go to the £1m whisky - our interpretation of the auction had to be much simpler i.e. a small number of whisky and other items which had all been donated and would give us additional revenue.   The licence fee for showing the film was costing us over £100 and with much of the whisky having to be purchased, along with our now traditional Glencairn glasses, we didn't have too much leeway if we wanted to ensure a profit for our charity account.

So what did we have on offer?   A few whisky related books donated by Whisky Magazine and Glenfiddich Distillery along with a copy of Whiskypedia, written and donated by whisky guru, author and Master of the Quaich, Charles Maclean.   Charles played the part of Rory McAllister in the film and led one of the film tasting sessions which we just happened to join in with (Cragganmore).    He also sent us a copy of the DVD and as he featured in the film, had autographed both items with both his own and character name -  truly unique items for the people who won the lots.  

We also auctioned off a Northampton Saints autographed rugby shirt, clay pigeon shoot for 4 people, bottle of Balblair 1990 malt whisky and a Ferrari passenger experience day at Silverstone Circuit - items donated by Northampton Saints, John Muskin (Olney Scaffolding), Balblair Distillery and Lion Derek Seymour respectively.   A last minute entry was handed in by someone called Harry, a Glass Irn Bru bottle which he wanted to donate - not sure if it actually contained Scotland's other national drink but it did attract a £12 bid, so thanks Harry!

Did we raise £100k - not quite but were more than delighted with the outcome of over £600.   John even managed to sell the waistcoat he was wearing for £10.  The things you do for Lions!!!!!! 

Overall the event raised in excess of £800 for our charity account and was an amazing evening which if the feedback we received on the night was anything to go by, was truly enjoyed by all.

With plans afoot to run further Whisky tasting events, anyone who wishes to be put on our email list to be advised when they are planned into our calendar should visit our
'Contact us'  page where we will happily ensure you learn of our future plans.