Whisky in Cinema – Hollywood’s Most Iconic Spirit

As well as knowing a thing or two about a great dram (pun definitely intended) I’m also a bit of a film and movie buff. So, imagine my excitement at the prospect of combining two of my favourite topics – films and whisky, together in this week’s post?

Many of Hollywood’s most iconic actors, and indeed, the characters they have portrayed, have been shot on the silver screen with a dram of whisky/whiskey in their hands. In fact, whisky on the big screen is often a symbol of luxury, sophistication, class, tenacity, and brooding masculinity.

Whether it’s Keanu Reeves’ John Wick gulping down a glass of Blanton’s Bourbon as he patches up his wounds after an adrenaline-fuelled battle, or Harrison Ford’s Deckard enjoying a glass of Johnnie Walker Black Label in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner, whisky/whiskey is every bit as iconic as those who consume it.

Because I fancied a bit of a change, I thought that this week, I’d look at some of the most iconic Hollywood blockbusters over the years, featuring whisky/whiskey.

So, sit back, pour yourself a wee dram, and let’s go to the movies.

The Shining (1980)

You can’t beat a good horror, and Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ is one of the most popular horror novels ever created. One could argue however, that Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 The Shining movie starring Jack Nicholson is even more iconic.

The Shining tells the story of a writer named Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) and his family, temporarily moving to an isolated mountain resort in the height of winter, so he can take a job as a temporary custodian at the hotel. All is not what it seems however, and once there, Jack slowly begins a descent into madness.

As he loses his grip on reality, he frequents the empty hotel bar, declaring that he’d sell his soul for a drink, or words to that effect. Sure enough, the ghost of a bartender named Lloyd suddenly appears, and offers Jack a glass of Tennessee whiskey (not bourbon) in the form of Jack Daniel’s.

As he descends further into madness, his visits to the bar increase, and the empty glasses of JD pile up. The more Jack drinks, the more unhinged he seems to become.

Photo Credit: Reddit and THESSALONIAN31N

Skyfall (2012)

James Bond’s drink of choice is the stuff of legend, and sadly to say, it isn’t Scotch. Despite this however, Bond has enjoyed a whisky or two in his time, and in the books, he enjoys a wee dram even more.

Skyfall is a movie that, to me, encapsulates everything to know and love about Scotch. You’ve the iconic stags, the stunning Skyfall family home and estate of Bond, and of course, the gorgeous, rugged, and dramatic Highland countryside with brooding ashen skies above.

In the movie, we see Daniel Craig’s James Bond, and his on-screen nemesis Silva, played by the brilliant Javier Bardem, enjoy an, at the time, 50-year-old Macallan 1962 Fine and Rare Vintage. This was a subtle nod to the movie franchise, as James Bond was celebrating his 50th anniversary.

We’ve also seen The Macallan whisky make appearances in other Bond movies, including 2015’s Spectre.

Photo Credit: Reddit

John Wick (2014)

When John Wick was released in 2014, audiences expected a cheesy popcorn flick from an actor seemingly past his prime, who was not renowned for his fighting abilities anyways. Instead, what they got was one of the most popular action movies of the 2010s, a movie that spawned three sequels and two spin-offs (so far) and an ageless Keanu Reeves who gave the performance of his career.

The John Wick movies are action movies thin on plot, but high on violence and action. What’s great is the fact that they don’t pretend to be something that they’re not. Keanu’s dialogue is deliberately limited, monotone, and slight cheesy, and audiences love it!

John Wick basically features Keanu Reeves as a retired assassin drawn out of retirement to seek vengeance on a group of high-ranking criminals that crossed him. He’s a one-man army hellbent on vengeance, whatever the costs.

The movies feature some of the most amazing fight choreography you’ll ever see. In the first film, there’s an amazing fight scene filmed in a night club, which sees Wick take down countless bad guys while in pursuit of the main antagonist. Needless to say, he picks up a bit of damage along the way.

John Wick is a man with expensive taste. It seems that the underworld life of a hitman has served him well. He’s seen living in a modern, uber-minimalist mansion, driving a gorgeous 1969 Ford Mustang (that plays a key role in the first movie), and wearing expensive tailored suits. He also has expensive taste in whiskey. While patching up his wounds, he’s seen drinking a bottle of Blanton’s Bourbon.

With its sweet taste profile, with notes of vanilla, butterscotch, citrus, and oak, I can certainly see why John Wick enjoys it. With that said, if I’d taken as much damage as he had, I’d have been happy with a value bottle of plonk from the local supermarket’s reduced aisle.

Photo Credit: Screenrant

Blade Runner (1982)

Finally, I’m going to talk about Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic.

Scott’s second venture into sci-fi following the success of 1979’s masterpiece Alien, saw him introduce us to a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019 with his 1982 epic Blade Runner.

The movie sees Harrison Ford playing Deckard, a retired detective who served as a ‘Blade Runner’. Blade Runners are tasked with retiring (killing) bioengineered humanoids identical in appearance to humans, known as Replicants. When a rogue group of Replicants escape custody, Deckard is tasked with hunting them down and “retiring” them.

Deckard is regularly seen enjoying a glass of Johnnie Walker Black Label, both at home and in bars. Blade Runner, despite being a bona-fide sci-fi, has all the makings of a gritty detective noir. You’ve the grizzled hard-boiled detective, the rain-soaked city streets, and of course, the whisky the detective sips as he sorts through evidence while trying to crack the case.

Black Label has distinct notes of oak, spice, and wood smoke, tied together with creamy toffee and herbal notes, with a fruity finish. Like the Replicants Deckard hunted down, it has a rough exterior, yet is surprisingly mellow.

The whisky returned to the big screen again in 2017’s sequel Blade Runner 2049. Johnnie Walker would even release a Black Label Blade Runner ‘The Director’s Cut’ edition following the 2017 sequel.

Photo Credit: Lovecreative

Looking for rare, award-winning, limited-edition, unique, and delicious whisky? If so, then be sure to check out Greatdrams.com and the huge selection of fantastic whisky products that we have available.

Here you’ll find all manner of different whiskies, primarily Scotch, to suit all palates and budgets, that you simply can’t get on the high street. We also have an extensive array of whisky/whiskey-related information so you can learn more about your favourite drams, how they’re made, and the distilleries that produce them.

Tags: CinemaHollywoodIconic SpiritWhisky
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My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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