Shaken & Shlurred as Bond Ages, Macallan Matures
'Sell drink placement here' says the 007 script, back on vodka from Macallan Scotch...
A YOUNG Sean Connery, shot from behind, reaches for a bottle of vodka in a clip from Marnie, Hitchcock's 1964 thriller, writes Tom Bruce-Gardyne for WhiskyInvestDirect.
There's a knock on the door and a modern-day Connery enters with a bottle of Dewar's 12 year-old Scotch. The older man, sporting a white goatee and dressed in black, shows his younger self what to drink and explains that one day he'll understand.
Another knock on the door, this time from the model Michelle Wewje.
"Sean, it's me," she whispers, a little breathless. Both men stare at each other. The older Sean smiles and reaches for the door with the parting words: "Some age, others mature."
This lavish ad from 2003 reportedly earned Connery $1 million for a day's work. But there's a nice irony if you think how much he did to promote vodka at the expense of Scotch in all those years playing Bond.
In the books by Ian Fleming, 007 drank everything to hand, from Scotch & soda to an Americano, rum, liquers, even bourbon – which Fleming's own doctor urged him to drink instead of the novelist's daily bottle of gin.
Yet on screen it was increasingly vodka, which promoted itself as a cool, urban spirit, much like 007 himself. How much Connery's Bond was reflecting an existing trend or creating a new one is unclear. But from that first vodka martini in Dr.No in 1962, the white spirit boomed.
Bond was a right old boozer in print, averaging 92 units of alcohol a week, enough for a bad case of DTs. Every drink would have been "shaken and shlurred" and not just those martinis. It's doubtful he would have been able to shoot straight, or even perform in bed – though perhaps Q had some gadget to help.
Film's current James Bond, Daniel Craig, soon grew tired of the cocktail. "Do I look like I give a damn?" he snaps at some hapless waiter asking Bond how he'd like his cliché served in Casino Royale.
Fast forward to Skyfall, and Bond showed further signs of maturity, with a 50-year old Macallan given a starring role in one scene. Earlier in that film, a glimpse of Heineken passes almost unnoticed despite costing the beer giant an alleged $45 million.
Cynics may wonder if the scriptwriters simply type in 'drink' – or 'looks at watch', 'picks up phone' or 'gets in car' – and the slot is then auctioned to the highest bidder. If you see Bond sipping a Bailey's on ice you'll know why, and in his latest outing in Sceptre, Bond was back on the vodka.
Perhaps Belvedere was waving the biggest chequebook this time. But word is that the producers of Skyfall chose Macallan all by themselves, and the brand didn't pay a cent, earning undreamt of global exposure for free. Besides, product placement of booze has long been around, evolving since Jack Daniel's appeared in the 1945 film Mildred Pierce for a nominal fee at most.
By the 1970s bottles of Glenlivet – now filled with flat ginger ale – were appearing on the London stage in place of whisky. It tasted better than cold tea, it was a free service, and theatreland was almost as grateful as the marketing men. Today it's big business, despite a growing backlash from the health lobby.
Will Hollywood bow to such pressure, dropping the booze after stubbing out their fags? Not with product placement so lucrative, perhaps. That Heineken appearance in Skyfall apparently covered nearly 30% of the film's entire £98 million production costs.
Award-winning drinks columnist and author Tom Bruce-Gardyne began his career in the wine trade, managing exports for a major Sicilian producer. Now freelance for 20 years, Tom has been a weekly columnist for The Herald and his books include The Scotch Whisky Book and the new Scotch Whisky Treasures.
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