Whiskey and Bourbon Documentaries Worth the Watch
Bourbon is more than a drink for people who live in Kentucky - it's a way of life. Now it’s a lifestyle that's rapidly gaining popularity not only in the United States, but worldwide. New, whiskey-themed bars are opening in cities around the globe, reflecting an international interest in the era of smoky bars and speakeasies. Gone are the days of Prohibition gangsters, but today's (legal) speakeasies seek to recreate a similar aura of excitement. If you haven’t heard yet, bourbon is the next big thing in alcoholic beverages. Here are a few films charting its rise to modern-day fame.
Great Scotch Whisky (2006)
Great Scotch Whisky, produced in 2006, encourages viewers to appreciate Scotch and see it for the art form that it is. The documentary primarily concerns itself with single malts and peaty-style spirits. It takes viewers on a journey around Scotland from Islay to Speyside and back again to learn about legendary whiskies including Bowmore, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and Lagavulin. The spectacular scenery and rugged Scottish landscape fill the documentary with imagery fit for a Robert Burns poem - perfect for connoisseurs of all things Scotch.
Addicted to Pleasure: Whisky (2012)
Whisky, for all it’s done to benefit Scottish culture, also presents it’s own set of problems.
While it remains one of the biggest growth industries in the United Kingdom, it is also a highly addictive substance, often claiming the lives of those who becoming dangerously infatuated with it. Addicted to Pleasure: Whisky, a 2012 BBC production, explores the early days of whiskey in the British Empire. The documentary also strives to explain how whiskey became the national drink of Scotland, leading to high rates of alcoholism. Unique in it’s candid discussion of the issue, it highlights the differences between “problem drinking” and “social drinking”, and ways in which viewers can enjoy the spoils of Scotland responsibly.
More than 200 years of bourbon history is shared by bourbon aficionados, master distillers, and historians in Bourbontucky. Currently airing on Direct TV’s AUDIENCE channel, it has already received praise from members of the Kentucky whiskey community. Against the spectacular backdrop of Kentucky’s bluegrass country, viewers will learn about how bourbon is made, from the oak barrels used to age the spirit to the myths and legends associated with it’s sale and consumption. This one will leave you thirsty!
Made and Bottled in Kentucky (2003)
Made and Bottled in Kentucky was originally produced in 1992 for the state's bicentennial, and is a unique documentary in that it traces the history of bourbon going back to its early days in the 18th century. Viewers learn to gain an appreciation for Kentucky's favorite drink through tours of some of Kentucky's most famous distilleries - even including the ruins of distilleries past. Charles K. Cowdery, the producer of the film as well as its writer and director, has been inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame for his work on this documentary and similar projects.
Rumrunners, Moonshiners and Bootleggers (2002)
Rumrunners, Moonshiners and Bootleggers is a History Alive production that explore the love and hate relationship with alcohol that's manufactured and sold illegally. It chronicles how bootleggers, moonshiners, and rumrunners helped to build the United States. The documentary explores the history of bootlegging and making illegal alcohol from the Colonial era and John Hancock, who was a smuggler, to the present day. Viewers learn about fishermen who became rumrunners in the 1920s, and gangsters who made their millions from bootlegging. One segment of interest to racing fans is about how moonshiners helped to make NASCAR what it is today.
As bourbon continues to grow in popularity, more programs exploring its unique history are sure to reach audiences. Bourbontucky, the latest to the list, only further proves that films exploring the nature of finely-crafted alcoholic beverages can not only entertain but elucidate, giving us a deeper sense of appreciation for some of our favorite spirits.
posted by Jeff Holt at 09:46