Here’s the thing about solid feature-length documentaries. Not only are they a fantastic tool for learning while also being incredibly enjoyable, these films at times leave us with the most rewarding stories. Stories of perseverance and passion allying to build a global icon, standing the test of time.
In his latest work, BAFTA winner and Oscar-nominated director Anthony Wonke has turned his lens to the world’s largest Scotch whisky brand, Johnnie Walker in a new feature documentary titled ‘The Man Who Walked Around The World’. Exploring the alchemy of how the brand cuts across cultures, borders, languages, and tastes, the film tells us the incredible story of this 200-year milestone that continues to stay relevant as ever. You can watch the whole film here.
What makes Johnnie Walker even more incredible is the influence that it has had on the people, events and the fact that the brand has lived through some notable moments in the past. We got an opportunity to watch the film and have listed these 6 cool things about ourbeloved Scotch whisky brand. So read on and be fascinated.
1. People actually offer Johnnie Walker to spirit mediums in Myanmar
Every August, a small rural village on the outskirts of Mandalay transforms into Myanmar’s unofficial gay village for the Taung Pyone Nat Pwe (spirit festival). Here, the Nat-Kadaws which are people who act as a medium between God and humans, are worshipped by people across the country. In this festival the gay people in the Nat-Kadaw community sing, dance and celebrate while offerings of Johnnie Walker are made. A humble person offers a Red Label while a successful person offers a Black Label. But the devotees who’re extremely well-off generally offer the most expensive one which is the Blue Label.
2. Johnnie Walker has been a favourite in music
In the documentary, hip hop band Wu-Tang Clan’s Cappadonna and rock musician Zakk Wylde take us through the impact that Johnnie Walker has had globally, which also reflected on their work. A number of artists, songwriters have referenced the brand in their music videos. In fact, the heavy metal band Black Label Society was also named after Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky because Zakk was very fond of the drink. The documentary later also explores how due to the appearance of Johnnie Walker bottles in Brazil’s Funk Ostentation music led people with new money to start purchasing the whisky.
3. Johnnie Walker was legit smuggled into USA during World War 1!
During the first world war, the price of whisky soared due to constant increases in government duty. Distilling of whisky stopped, which resulted in excessive consumption of cheap whisky putting the war effort in danger. So when prohibition came in and restrictions were placed on the alcohol industry from 1920-1933, Johnnie Walker was moved into the U.S through Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. The whisky bottles were neatly fit into hollowed-out loaves of bread and smuggled into the country. Talk about being creative!
4. The whisky brand captured French hearts after an insect pest destroyed the vineyards
In the mid-to-late 19th century, there was a devastating insect pest that completely destroyed three-fourths of France’s vineyards. There was no wine left to be sent to Victorian England, or for the French to drink. Enter, Johnnie Walker whisky which instantly captured the markets, giving everyone an iconic taste to fall in love with. Why aren’t we surprised?
5. Johnnie Walker has marked its presence in major diplomatic gatherings
Johnnie Walker has been present during some of the most important moments in world history. If only the bottle could speak, it would have so many stories to tell us! It saw the Industrial Revolution, it witnessed Winston Churchill’s wartime conversations, this bottle was on the table when the Iraqi officials in the Saddam Hussain era were figuring out their next moves. And even today, Iraqi politicians cannot begin their meeting until there is a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label on the table.
6. Its presence in legendary films is noteworthy
The easily recognisable futuristic square bottle has been a common reference in famous Hollywood movies. More and more people got to know of Johnnie Walker after spotting iconic actors drinking the whisky in movies. In the 1982 film Blade Runner, Harrison Ford’s character Rick Deckard is seen drinking Johnnie Walker Black Label which he also drinks in the sequel Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Even in Superman 3 (1983), the superhero is seen drinking Johnnie Walker in a bar.
And not just Hollywood, Johnnie Walker has been a dominant brand in India which is the largest whisky-consuming nation in the world. In many Bollywood movies, we can find the actors enjoying a drink or two while the bottle of Johnnie Walker stands in the corner. The brand is so popular, that a prominent yesteryears actor changed his name after it. Interesting right?
The film captures many fascinating aspects of the iconic brand that Johnnie Walker is. So if you want to learn more such interesting facts about Scotch whisky and Johnnie Walker, then this film is a must-watch for you.