New whisky documentary presented by world-renowned spirits writer nears crowdfunding deadline

A new whisky documentary which is set to be presented by a world-renowned ­spirits writer and highlights the lesser known parts of Scottish culture and history through the lens of the iconic spirit is giving a final push towards its crowdfunding target.

Published 23rd Mar 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Named The Amber Light, it will ­feature contributions from whisky writer Dave Broom and other personalities from art, music, literature and food, such as Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin.


With filming due to start this summer, Dave, who is already considered to be a legend in the world of whisky, hopes to raise £40,000 in crowdfunding through the Kickstarter crowdfunding ­platform by 7 April.

At the time of writing more than 160 backers have pledged over £37,000 via the website and now the team are hoping for a final push for funding before Friday’s (7th April) deadline.

Dave, who has been writing about spirits for 25 years, will travel the length and breadth of Scotland talking to key innovators and thinkers in the whisky world – farmers, distillers, bar owners and historians – as well as people less directly involved such as musicians, artists and fellow writers.

Among the film’s main contributors will be king of the Tartan Noir Ian Rankin, who will talk about the “darkness in the Scottish soul” for the feature.

The documentary will explore the unsung role of women in distilling and blending over the centuries, the influence of alchemists, medicine men and botanists, and the evolution of spirits from medicine to social lubricants.

It will also look at the temperance movement, smugglers, Dante’s inferno, and the use of unexpected ingredients in whisky’s development, such as saffron. Filming will take place over the summer with screenings of the documentary in November and the premiere of the finished film expected in January next year.

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Dave said: “There’ll be contradictory opinions — so we will be talking about whisky’s dark side as well as whisky’s light side; talking about the completely forgotten role that ­women have always played in distillation and whisky-making as well, so we’ll be trying to redress some of the balances and some of the misconceptions that I think have sprung up around whisky — it’s not all about ­tartan and shortbread.”

Adam Park, co-founder of and documentary director, added: “This is a hugely exciting project with the world’s foremost expert on whisky. We realised there’s a much greater and weirder story to tell about whisky and the culture that’s built up over the ­centuries. Music and storytelling will be key components. All those who pledge money, from as little as £25, for the documentary will receive various rewards.

“It’s full steam ahead. We’ve already assembled an incredibly talented and dedicated team, both on screen and off. We have mitigated risk by meticulously crafting our plan, and building an accurate scope of the work – covering everything from scouting and securing locations, interviewees, equipment rental, and so on.”

A teaser clip for the short film has already been placed online – in it, Dave discusses the moment he finally “got whisky” on a trip to Ullapool and describes when he finally understood the power and romance behind Scotland’s national spirit.

He said: “It was at that point, that I realised, yes, I get it. This placing of whisky within an environment, within a terroir, within a culture, within people’s lives. You’re linking it to food, you’re linking it to poetry and song and landscape and that’s the area that’s not been explored properly but that’s the area that’s got the most power and the most connection.”

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The award-winning writer explained that the whole idea for the film sprung from a rant about the way whisky is perceived: "Adam came down here to film me for the gannet and I began to rant about how whisky is seen as a commodity or a brand. It’s a thing which is made in some mysterious way. Even if you fall in love with it you end up obsessing about the production and miss the important element of its story.

"There are some great films about whisky’s history and how it's made but there’s not been one which looks at the fact that it is part of Scottish culture and that over the centuries it has influenced that culture - and the culture has influenced it. Whisky is there is music and story, in myth and art. It’s inspired and befuddled, it has helped define what it is to be Scottish.

"After I’d finished he said, ‘why don’t we make a film about that?’ So, we are. It will look at why Scotland’s landscape and climate made whisky-making inevitable, root it in place.

"We’ll look at how whisky has been enjoyed through the centuries, how it’s been flavoured and drunk long, or mixed and then look at how it has parallels with Scottish food and then the ways in which it has worked its way into Scotland's culture.

"That means talking to writers such as Ian Rankin (and others yet to be named), as well as musicians and poets and artists. We'll speak with farmers and distillers, chefs and bartenders. What is whisky to them?

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"There will be music all the way through from artists such as Alisdair Roberts and James Yorkston (with more to be announced). Ultimately we hope to show not just how whisky has been part of the culture but it is still very much a living part of modern Scotland."

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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