The misty landscape surrounding the Balblair Distillery. 

The misty landscape surrounding the Balblair Distillery. 
Photo provided

David Eustace Creates Film for Launch of Balblair 15 Year Old Scotch

New Release
Whisky

More and more whisky distilleries are partnering with artists to lend appeal to their bottlings. Balblair in Scotland is the latest, collaborating with David Eustace. Falstaff speaks to him.

Red, white, pink and sometimes even orange, wine at least has distinct colours, while whisky is basically shades of brown. This might explain why an increasing number of whisky distilleries are partnering with artists – to bring instant visual appeal to their spirit. Balblair is one of the latest Scottish producers to collaborate with a creative: David Eustace, a Scottish minesweeper turned prison officer before becoming a fashion, celebrity, and art photographer. His short film Precious Time is cinematic, and almost as heart-warming as when the Queen met Paddington Bear. It tells the story of distillery manager, John MacDonald, who opens a letter written to him by his younger self. The key line being, ‘reads: “keep an open mind, and your dreams alive…’.”

How did the collaboration arise?

I was introduced to distillery manager John McDonald through a friend. Our initial conversations uncovered a mutual appreciation and perspective for how time impacts us, which led to me being entrusted with the writing, creation and direction of this film. Then came the pandemic – the ultimate time test. It was interesting to see how, without the pressure and relentlessness of everyday life, we were all forced to slow down. Now the world is coming out of isolation, we are all ready to escape and savour all the things we’ve not been able to do. Through making this film, I’ve not only been given the opportunity to take in the immense beauty of the Scottish Highlands and deliver it to the world, but also to communicate the sentiment of how precious moments in time are.

Tell us more about the theme and the locations of the film? 

One of the most enjoyable parts of whisky for me is that moment before you drink it. The key shot of the film is when John lifts the glass, looks at it and then the film cuts just before he drinks it. This is because that moment is his time, his enjoyment. That is the precious time. As regards locations, the Balblair distillery has been a figure in the landscape largely unchanged since 1790, which itself is timeless. The surrounding land provides key natural ingredients to create the whisky. Each spot in the film has a connection to Balblair. One location is the Struie Hill viewpoint which showcases the rolling hills that lead seamlessly to the sea. It is a vista that has been appreciated by generations past. We pay homage to the importance of a moment, enjoying the time and how precious it is.

Why did you choose a letter to drive the film and what is your message?

It takes time and effort to sit and write a letter – a beautiful way to highlight the importance of consideration. There is a tactile quality connected with writing a letter too. Our day-to-day lives thrive on fast communications. The importance and skill in writing a letter creates a moment in time in which both the writer and reader feel a sense of personal connection. I would like to convey a sense of enjoyment, contentment and to reflect on their own day. Time demands respect from us all. We all know it slips by with such fragility, but I hope the film will encourage the viewer to stop and savour the special moments in their life.

You can watch David Eustace's short film here.

TASTING NOTE

91 POINTS

  • The Balblair 15

Old gold in colour, with tasty granola with raisins on the nose, bound in Golden Syrup, then a still quite youthful palate of crushed Hob Nobs, macadamia nuts, blackcurrants and kiwi, with a curl of smoke leading to a medium finish. Matured in ex-bourbon casks, then finished in first fill Spanish oak butts.

700ml, 46% ABV, £67.85

Douglas Blyde
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