It all began in 1822, in the isolated and remote Livet valley, located in the Glen Livet district of Speyside, Scotland. This is where the founder, George Smith, learned the craft of distilling the golden tipple, which would go on to be one of the most coveted drinks in the world. Out of sight from the King’s soldiers and the customs officers, George had the time he needed to distil the whisky slowly, and mature it to perfection.
In the August of 1822, King George IV reached Scotland for a state visit. Word about George Smith’s illegally distilled whisky had spread far and wide, and the King himself asked for a taste of the infamous whisky from Glen Livet. And we can be sure that he was not disappointed after he tried a dram.
After two years, in 1824, George decided to get his license and be the first legal distiller in Glen Livet. This did not sit well with his competitors, the other illegal distillers in Speyside. They threatened to set his distillery on fire, with him inside. George chose to follow the path he had chosen, and refused to cower because of their threats. He kept two flint-lock pistols on him, at all times, and defended himself and his brand with everything he had. George’s courage and grit, and the will to pursue his dream, form the very foundation on which the brand was built and brought this far.
November 27, 1871, was a day of sorrow for the brand, as George Smith passed away. He left his life’s work to be continued by John Gordon Smith, his youngest son. John left his career in law, and picked up the business where his father left off.
In just a few more years’ time, the competitors were trying hard to adopt the name “Glenlivet” and use it for themselves, so that they could capitalize on the notoriety that the brand had gained over the years. John found the perfect solution to the problem and fought hard for it. In 1884, they finally became the true, the one and only, and the coveted, The Glenlivet.
Centuries passed, and the brand survived through tough times such as the Prohibition Era and The Great Depression. Advancements in technology and transportation saw The Glenlivet account for more than half of all Scottish malt whisky being sold in the USA. Now, it is one of most loved and most consumed whiskies across the globe, and George Smith’s legacy has been not only preserved, but elevated to the gold standard in the world of whisky.
Director Al Isaac, paid a tribute to George Smith and his creation, in a beautifully directed advert, which captures the true essence of The Glenlivet. This short video takes us right back to the inception of the brand, and exhibits just how special it is.
Titled Persistence, the advert introduces us to a young man, carrying a bottle of Glenlivet and evading three soldiers who are pursuing him on horseback. The young man, we assume, is a young George Smith. He is seen protecting the bottle of precious liquid.
The brilliant cinematography takes us through pristine Scottish landscape. We watch with bated breath, as the man clings on to his bottle, and runs through forests, crosses rivers and makes a dash across lush green rolling pastures, while the soldiers are just seconds away from catching him.
He is ultimately captured and brought before the King, in fetters, as the court watches the proceedings. We assume that the King is King George IV, and he asks for the bottle clasped in the fugitive’s hands. As the soldiers struggle to get the bottle out of his hand, the cork pops out, and the golden tipple flows out in a beautifully captured close-up shot, with the sun accentuating the hue.
As the whisky makes its way out of the bottle and before the court, we are reminded of a scene, reminiscent of a climactic sequence from the 2006 period film, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. The fragrance of the fluid captivates all those present, and ensnares them. The frowns on their faces are replaced by content and the joy within lights up their faces.
Al Isaac perfectly captures just how special The Glenlivet is, and how it has the power to instil true joy even in the toughest of hearts. How this very whisky can bring a certain warmth that can contest even the largest of fires.
The director succeeds in exhibiting his view of George Smith and The Glenlivet journey, but more so, in making us, the viewers, crave for a dram or two, even on a summer morning.