Bill Bufalino: “Do you ever drink on the job?”
Frank Sheeran: “No.”
The Irishman (Netflix, 2019)
Smash cut to Sheeran, as played by Robert De Niro, throwing back a shot of whiskey at the bar with his friends. The scene is one of those good old “gimme a whiskey” moments. It’s something we’ve seen countless times in our favorite movies and TV shows. The protagonist is letting loose with buddies or needs to ebb the pain of a gunshot wound or has straight-up saved the world from utter annihilation. And, in that moment, our hero reaches for the brown stuff.
There are characters for whom drinking whiskey is innate — looking at you Ray Donovan — and there are characters whose circumstances prompt them to reach for the bottle. In any case, it only makes sense that, with these stories working their way into our hearts on a daily basis, whiskey makers would jump at the opportunity to bring their expressions into the fold. Sometimes that means straightforward product placement, but we’re more interested in when these partnerships reach all the way into the development of the blends.
Best-case-scenario, a good movie or TV-whiskey collab features a lovely piece of glass-art, inspired by your favorite characters and their journeys, and filled with delicious brown liquor to sip on while watching their stories unfold. Even better, once the credits roll, you still have the whiskey.
PART I — MOVIES
THE IRISHMAN — The Irishman Small Batch Single Malt Irish Whiskey
BUY HERE: $38
There is no surprise that Frank Sheeran has to take the edge off every once in a while. As we learn in Scorcese’s newest epic, his sordid career would lead anyone to drink. And with a nickname like The Irishman, it doesn’t take a detective to deduce that he was a fan of Irish whiskey.
Deep in the Carlow countryside, the Urglin Glebe House is over two centuries old and the headquarters of the Irish Whiskey Co. Fittingly, this small-batch single malt is crafted from Irish barley and distilled three times through copper pots in keeping with the traditional practices. Upon tasting The Irishman you’ll note there an aroma of dried apricots, peaches, and tropical fruits. Notes of vanilla, sweet granola, toasted almonds, and honey dominate the palate and lead to a finish touched by malt and sweet oak.
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE — Old Forester Statesman Straight Bourbon Whiskey
BUY HERE: $60
The Statesman are the U.S. counterparts of the Kingsman, and instead of a high-brow tailoring shop on Saville Row they own an understated Bourbon whiskey distillery in Kentucky in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Clearly, this collab is one that makes natural sense for all parties.
Since its introduction in 1870, Old Forester has been on the market, the only bourbon continuously distilled and marketed by its founding family before, during, and after Prohibition. Old Forester Classic Kentucky Straight Bourbon touts itself as the first bourbon ever bottled, and this bottle is one of their older expressions, stored in the warmer part of their warehouse, giving a unique, almost-rummier taste to it (with that nice Kentucky hug at the finish), versus their usual releases.
JOHN WICK — Continental Straight Bourbon Whiskey
BUY HERE: $80
John Wick has more reason to crush a whiskey than anyone, between losing his wife, his dog, and having to survive multiple traumas on his quest for vengeance. Named after the hotel in which Wick and a fellow professional killer take refuge, this bourbon will have you feeling like a member of their exclusive assassin club.
This premium bourbon has a semisweet beginning with oaky notes that grow stronger as you go. The whiskey is made in Kentucky, bottled at 45% abv, and, as a bonus, the package comes with two exclusive rocks glasses etched with the Continental logo. The tasting notes are subtle, with toasted grain flavors at the end and an elegant, long finish.
BLADE RUNNER 2049 — Johnnie Walker Blade Runner ‘Directors Cut’ Limited Edition Whisky
BUY HERE: $100
If you spent your day being attacked by humans and machines, like ‘K’, you would probably need a glass of whiskey like he pours in Blade Runner 2049. The appearance that Johnnie Walker made in the original Blade Runner was iconic, so it was only natural to take the relationship to the next level on the long-awaited sequel.
You can always count on the product to be up to standards when it comes from the Johnny Walker rickhouse and distillery. This limited-edition whiskey was developed in collaboration with visionary Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve and Johnnie Walker Master Blender Jim Beveridge. On tasting, it’s a dark, rich, smooth blend, with sweet fruity vanilla flavors and clouds of smokiness.
PART II — TELEVISION
RAY DONOVAN — The Fixer Blended Whiskey
BUY HERE: $40
Ray has a way of getting what he wants, and that means when he wants to drink whiskey, day or night, he does it. There is rarely an episode of the show that goes by without him enjoying a little liquid company, and with his intense aura and tie-less suits, he makes it look good.
Developed in partnership between Showtime and Silver Screen Bottling Company, this product hit a little earlier this year and is named for Ray’s mysterious profession. On tasting, you’ll find it silky smooth and surprisingly light on the palate. A blended whiskey that is lively and fresh, allowing the lushness of the corn to come through.
THE WALKING DEAD — The Walking Dead Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
BUY HERE: $35
Being one of the few surviving members of the human race alive during the zombie apocalypse means more whiskey for you on The Walking Dead. Since the show features plenty of boozing, there have been previous liquors tied to the show, but this is the first from comic book and series executive producer Robert Kirkman.
Born out of a collaboration between Spirits of the Apocalypse, Diageo, and Skybound Entertainment, this fits the program both aesthetically and on the tongue. The whiskey is distilled in Kentucky, where Kirkman was born and The Walking Dead originally was set. The nose is light caramel. On tasting, you’ll find plenty of fruit and a warming, spicy finish.
GAME OF THRONES — Mortlach Single Malt Scotch Whisky
BUY HERE: $132
For the people living in the Six Kingdoms, especially in The North, a strong drink is a great way to clean a wound, fight off the cold, and to celebrate another day not being dead on Game Of Thrones. This is the ninth and final special edition bottle, made as part of a powerful profile of spirits from the GoT team.
Encased in a metallic gold canister that features an intricate pen and ink drawing of the three-eyed raven, seen throughout the eight seasons of the series, the Six Kingdoms packaging pays homage to the last Greenseer and the independence of the North. Evocative of the past and crafted for the future, the Mortlach Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 15 Years, has been matured in first-fill sherry-seasoned casks and finished in American Oak ex-bourbon casks. The whisky inside the distinctive package imparts a bold, smooth taste — with notes of vanilla and spice befitting of those with a noble palate.
PEAKY BLINDERS — Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Whiskey
BUY HERE: $25
There are two things that The Shelbys and their gang are excellent at, one is crime and the other is drinking whiskey in Peaky Blinders. The liquid is passed between the characters more often than handshakes or hugs. There are few shows that will have you reaching for a dram quicker.
In England’s famous ‘Black Country’, a region where the show regularly films, the Sadler family have been purveyors of fines spirits since 1861. Over a century’s worth of knowledge and passion has led the family to create this Straight Bourbon Whiskey, delivering a nose of cinnamon, raisin, and sweet banana. The palate brings melted chocolate, apricots and dried orange peels. On tasting, there are flavors of Christmas cake, pecans, toffee, and burnt crust. This is Irish whiskey at its best.