8 of the strangest Scotch whisky ads ever produced for TV

From dodgy Scottish accents to overusing stereotypes, here are eight of the most bizarre whisky ads ever created for TV.

Published 16th Apr 2018
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Though whisky ads can, and on many occasions do, get it right (Matt Berry's whisky ad for Bells, the Lahroaig's 'Opinions Welcome' campaign and Nick Offerman's Lagavulin ads spring to mind) they often seem to be outweighed by the odd, the cheesy, the comedic or the just downright bad.

We've searched the internet for some of our favourite odd examples, with stereotypes, dodgy Scottish accents and sometimes just very strange marketing choices looming large.

Claire Forlani's Dewars Ads

This ad should be a winning formula - starring a great actress it has a decent soundtrack and excellent lighting, and yet somehow it seems to fall short.

It could be the dialogue or the strange poses they inflict upon our poor protagonist - or, more than likely, the dodgy Scottish accent that Claire's Forlani puts on that is the problem.

This fake accent is made all the more comical when you consider that Claire grew up in London meaning she has probably met, and spoken to, more than a few Scottish people in her life.

And this is before you learn that she not only played Sean Connery's daughter in the Rock, but that she is married to a famous Scottish actor in Dougray Scott.

So, why didn't Dewar's just cast a Scottish actress? Or even just let Forlani use her own accent? The answer will probably be lost to the ages but the way she says "seriously" will stay with us for a very long time.

And come to think of it, who the hell is Angus?

Michael Owen's Spey whisky ad

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Though it's not clear from this ad, Michael is best known for his football career as a striker for Liverpool and England, not horse racing or boxing as the clip seems to suggest.

Perhaps unfairly lambasted as "cringeworthy" when it was first released and slated by UK audiences as being "dull as dishwater", the ad was meant only for the Chinese market where Mr Owen is apparently very popular.

It was not, however, meant to be taken as a bootleg version of David Beckham's whisky ad, as it was unflatteringly tagged by many British viewers.

The Baron (Dewar's Ad)

We promised we wouldn't pick on one particular brand throughout this article but sometimes it can't be helped.

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The controversial Baron ad starts out at 90 miles an hour and promptly drives off a cliff into a pool of misogyny and terrible dialogue.

Which is weird when you consider Dewar's to be the pioneers of Scotch whisky ads (as shown in the video of the first-ever filmed whisky ad made way back in 1897).

Seagrams 100 Piper's Ad

Laying it on with some of the thickest tartan paint is 100 Piper's blended whisky, whose 90s marketing team seemed keen to rearrange common human biology in a bid to give us an excuse to use the least used sense in whisky tasting.

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"In yer earrrrrs."

Lawson's Whisky Haka ads

Because apparently Scots (or maybe just Scotch drinkers) don't play by the rules, meaning for rugby we don't wear shorts (we wear kilts), shirts or even underwear.

Red Bowler Whisky Ads

Emmm... we aren't quite sure what to say about this one. So many questions though.

Why the look up?

Why does the kilted Scotsman hate romance?

Why does he swear so much?

Because of course Scotch can solve border disputes.

White Horse Whisky ad

Somebody should have told White Horse that a large dose of surrealism and a blonde lady singing in the bath is not really a winning formula for a TV ad.

When it's done right

In summary, we'd much rather enjoy Matt Berry's Christmas ad for Bell's any day of the week.


Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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