When we set out to make this film, I went on a personal mission to seriously educate myself on the history of and the craftsmanship of whisky. I wasn’t a newbie or anything, but if I was going to direct this film, I had to go a lot deeper. I read about distillation. I read about history. I read about the excise men and the tax laws. I read about the advertising.
And then… I worked at a distillery for a week.
When Liam Hughes at the Glasgow Distillery learned about our project, he not only agreed to participate, he invited me to come and work there for a week. I JUMPED at the chance. I got myself some steel-toed boots and a hi-viz vest and I was off to the races.
Each day I did a different job there: I helped mash in. I helped fill wash backs. I helped make gin. I ran the stills. And then I learned a bit about coopering from their in-house cooper Shug McMurray. Shug is now my spirit animal.
I loved coopering, but I learned enough about it that my main takeaway was that I didn’t want to do it. It’s a hard craft to master… and it’s just plain hard.
If you ever want to learn all about whisky, read all the books you can. But also really try to find a way to work in a distillery for a bit. You won’t regret it.
On the afternoon of the final day, I filled casks. I filled 12 casks to be precise. And they were filled with spirit that I had helped to craft throughout the week. And now I own one of those casks. How cool is that?