The Explosive Art Behind Our 21 Year Old Whisky

13 April 2015

Our 21 Year Old whisky is not what you would expect from a traditional Glenfiddich expression. Finished in hand-selected Caribbean rum casks that have previously contained our very own specially made rum, it brings a wealth of exotic flavours to our signature taste.

Recently, we took some time to speak with London-based Benedict Morgan, the still life photographer who’s helped us to create our recently revealed “Raised in Scotland. Roused by the Caribbean” campaign - an equally extraordinary and expressive campaign to celebrate this fine expression and bring to life its fascinating story, vibrant character and distinctive, complex flavour like never before.

We caught up with Ben behind the scenes.

How long have you been working in the photography industry?

I started working in the fashion sphere eight years ago, assisting Nick Knight. It’s a glamorous world but hard work, often starting at 4:30 in the morning. After working as first assistant to fashion photographer, Miles Aldridge, I decided to become a photographer in my own right. The first year was tough, but working with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra gave me the exposure I needed and since then it’s been great.

How would you describe your creative style?

I have a simplistic and minimalistic style. Still life photography is very systematic and it has to be meticulous. As a photographer you are creating a moment, not simply capturing one. In this digital age it is easy to make everything look like it has been created by a computer. This is not what I strive for. Imperfections are vital in achieving this. It is my aim to bring the human touch to the shots, whilst ensuring they look meticulous.  

What was your main inspiration for the shoot?

Glenfiddich’s concept of “Raised in Scotland and Roused by the Caribbean” was the starting point. The bottle represents Scotland, so we had to elevate the Caribbean through colour. The colours we’ve used are inspired by the Caribbean sunset and we’ve used movement to express the electrifying energy of the region. The ultimate aim is to capture lovely incidental moments of impact, which feel convincing. 

Did your previous work with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra influence the shoot?

Yes – with the orchestra, we were using a similar technique to represent the sound of the instruments, aiming for a velvety texture and sculptural feel. It’s a similar concept to the Glenfiddich, but depicts sound rather than taste. 

How did the taste of the 21 Year Old inspire you?

We tasted the whisky long before the shoot, which inspired us to work towards the final shot. Suddenly it all made even more sense – the unique sweet flavour is so distinct, I had a clearer idea of the sense we were trying to capture. 

How much thought and practice goes into this?

On an experimental shoot, you have to invent methods and think on your feet. I worked with Jack Kirby, a special effects prop maker, to refine our technique. We dyed water, mixing it with a thickening substance to get the right consistency. Having tested it, it was clear we could get a loose, billowing fabric feel with thinner liquid.

We filled balloons with the liquid, suspended them above the set and manually swung them towards our target. This gave us a cleaner and more refined look. We tested various targets - a golf ball provided the best centre of impact to create the shapes we were after. 

What was challenging about this shoot?

In my opinion, post-production is always the biggest challenge. It’s difficult choosing the best bits of everything we have to create one final image. There are so many beautiful moments and unique splashes.

At what stage does the Glenfiddich bottle get introduced to the images?

We used a mock bottle during the shoot to ensure that we captured authentic splash shapes and shadows. The real Glenfiddich 21 Year Old is dropped into the final shot in place of the mock bottle. 

Which camera did you use to capture the images?

The camera I used works in exactly the same way as the cameras from the early 18th Century. It’s a large format camera, which uses plates and bellows. I combine this with modern lenses and I have a digital back to the camera, but the body is authentic. 

The Glenfiddich 21 Year Old is "Raised in Scotland. Roused by the Caribbean". How do your images reflect this?

The Scottish element is the bottle, and the backdrop represents the vivid energy of the Caribbean. The key factor was marrying the two, and I feel that the final image achieves this: the steady and unique Scottish single malt at the core of the composition, touched by the electric and colourful Caribbean.

For all the latest news regarding our Glenfiddich 21 Year Old campaign and its new packaging, just head to the Glenfiddich Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.