Monumental – The Journey

May 23rd, 2017

Innovators in a crowded market, LA-based whisky company Alexander Murray & Co. specialise in selecting casks of matured whisky from practised distillers, bottling premium quality Scotch that reflects their expertise. With strong branding and a clear awareness of their market, working with them on the release of a 30-year-old blend called Monumental was a highly rewarding collaboration.

Imitating the processes of blending used in the Scotch whisky boom of the late 19th century in its formation, Monumental was created to be bold, vibrant and rich and this manifests in the striking contemporary design of its bottle, and the strong brand messaging in the website’s rhetoric.

We were given conceptual freedom with our video for Monumental and, when selecting our location, we knew we needed somewhere that would live up to the name. Buachaille Etive Mor is a hill that overlooks one of the most dramatic landscapes in Scotland, forbidding in its magnitude, the location served as the perfect backdrop for our protagonist’s narrative. The concept was to follow a young explorer’s intrepid journey, braving winter storms to scale snowy mountains in search of the perfect spot to enjoy his dram. Interweaving an aspirational narrative with pleasing sensory close-ups, would conjure the intended allure this innovative new blend of Whisky deserves.

A visual central to our storyboard was our explorer sipping his dram in the dimming embers of a fire at the top of the mountain. This of course meant we would need to capture the shot at night, meaning the crew, like our protagonist, faced the challenge of camping atop Buachille Etive Mor overnight. The conditions of our ascent were far worse than we had anticipated, but what hindered us more was the sheer weight of our kit. Two cameras, a rig, monopod and a medley of canon lenses, alongside practical essentials like torches, supplies and the Whisky itself, distributed between just three of us, burdened our climb considerably. As the wind increased, the more conspicuous our disparate fitness levels became and when we finally reached the peak the relief of soup and a fire was more than can be articulated.

The memory of the shared plight of the climb adds to the satisfaction I feel when watching the film back. As both a filmmaker and a hiking enthusiast, this shoot was one of the most physically challenging I have experienced but opportunities like this, combining creative freedom with expedition, are what revitalises my passion for the craft.