A small independent whisky distiller, Kilchoman, asked us to create brand films that encapsulate the essence of their company and celebrate their whisky making process. We were tasked with creating a series of three informative and visually spectacular films that explore Kilchoman’s Core Expressions Machir Bay, Sanaig and 100% Islay.
Each film is led by a member of the Kilchoman Distillery team. They profile the three whiskies, delving into the unique processes, ingredients and flavours that give each of them their own distinct character.
In an area of the farm, lit and dressed as a makeshift studio, we watch these ‘tasting sessions’. We discover the care and attention that goes into the provenance and process behind the range.
Both ‘Chef’s Table’ and the ‘Jonny Walker – 18 Years’ film were useful references for us. We drew inspiration from how they elevate the food and drink in question, digging into a background narrative, the sensory experience of tasting them, and positioning them in a world of beauty, craft and romance.
While each whisky’s different characteristics forms the spine of each film, we wanted to tie the Core Expressions together with a conceptual, elemental thread. So, each film has its own voice, with the texture and tone of the content informed by Islay’s geographical features.
Whether it’s the violence of the sea, a cool breeze running through barley or the creaking of forest trees, we wanted each whisky to be an expression of a different element. They would be a story of nature and nurture, intended to inform and inspire both connoisseur and amateur alike.
Machir Bay – Water and Wind
We wanted to delve into Kilchoman’s intimate connection to the sea and the maritime essence behind its flagship whisky. This forms the dominant visual texture of this film. Underwater footage and waves crashing on rocks show the brute force of water and wind that has shaped Islay over the centuries. Machir Bay is made of the same weathered, hardy character.
This juxtaposes the delicate and exact processes behind its production with the violence of the elements. This serves as a visual frame for the narrative in the ‘Chef’s Table’ discussion of the whisky’s defining characteristics. These include its maritime peat smoke and lighter, citrus sweetness, caramel, vanilla, butterscotch and tropical fruit, brought out by its 90% bourbon, 10% sherry cask combination.
Sanaig – Wood
Just as Machir Bay is characterised by the sea that provided inspiration for its name, we wanted to express Sanaig’s intimate connection to wood. Its secrets lie in the 70% sherry, 30% bourbon cask combination that give it a richer, softer character. It has a more rounded flavour of raisins, cooked fruit and a soft cinnamon sweetness.
Although the distillery sources its barrels internationally, we wanted to stage a whisky barrel being made. This would be a visual journey from shots of trees being felled, to the staves being bent into shape and the barrel being charred. This celebrates the traditional method of barrel ageing still used to this day, and conceptualises the whisky’s inextricability from the wood’s texture, taste and history. In the Kilchoman range, Sanaig in particular, is the product that demonstrates this delicate balance.
100% Islay – Earth
This film celebrates just how unique it is for a Scottish distillery to use locally grown ingredients. Peated at a lower level, with a lighter, citrus flavour and long smooth finish, we wanted to show that it’s the provenance of the ingredients that gives the whisky its character.
Shooting in April allowed the barley to be shot at a different stage of its growth. This allowed for a broader narrative portrayal of its journey, as it battles the elements through the summer months. This was captured visually with a pastoral scene, which points to Kilchoman’s special connection to its Gaelic roots and the soil it stands on.