Drinking and watching movies are two things that many of us have done more of this year. In response, Scottish travel company Away from the Ordinary has decided to pair drams with drama, creating the Watch with Whisky series to whisk armchair travelers away on an immersive—and tasty—virtual trip to Scotland.
“The first part of going on holiday or booking a vacation is the dreaming process,” says company founder Aeneas O’Hara. “We’re letting the films and the whiskeys help you dream of those places.” O’Hara, a whiskey aficionado whose collection is about 100 bottles strong (“Luckily, you can’t see the ones on the floor,” he says on a video call. “It’s like A Beautiful Mind, but with whiskey instead of Post-it notes.”), had already been leading virtual tastings during the pandemic, and combining that with films seemed natural—and a more flexible option for people who can’t make a timed tasting. “This can be at your leisure,” he says, not between Zoom meetings for work or “when your child is doing their math homework on a Thursday.”
For each film, O’Hara picks five whiskeys, which come in 1-ounce bottles, and matches them with specific scenes. A printed guide tells viewers when to take a sip, down to the second—like a classy drinking game—and explains the inspiration behind the pairing. The series kicked off this fall with 1983’s, Local Hero, which stars Peter Riegert as a Texas oil exec who comes to the Highlands to buy out a village and build a refinery.
“I think it’s the perfect film to start with,” O’Hara says, “because it’s about a busy American going to Scotland and having a change of view of life, which we try but can’t always achieve in a vacation.” It’s also a movie that’s close to O’Hara’s heart, as some scenes were filmed near his hometown. (He can point out his house during one sweeping overhead shot.) To select the whiskeys, O’Hara watched Local Hero looking for “key scenes that resonated or tied in with drinking but that also had a logistical point of view.”
For example, the Tomatin 10 Years Old 2009 Caribbean Rum Cask Finish should be sipped during a scene when a character explains that Scotland’s waters are warmed by currents traveling up from the Bahamas. “That’s a beautiful tie-in,” O’Hara says, “and it’s a great whiskey.” Ultimately, O’Hara hopes Watch with Whisky will inspire future travel to Scotland. Upcoming films in the series include (naturally), and Thunderball (starring everyone’s favorite Scotsman, the late Sean Connery). “It’s a tough job, drinking whiskey, having to lie back and see what scene inspires what dram,” O’Hara says. “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone!” awayfromtheordinary.com