Brand ambassadors propagate whisky mythology, rather than dispel it, argues David Tjeder.
As a frenzied Bill Pullman drove into the night and the credits to Lost Highway began to roll, there was a sharp intake of breath next to me. ‘Ok then,’ said my partner. ‘So what the f**k was that all about?’
It’s a fair question, one you could justifiably ask at the end of almost all of David Lynch’s works. From the nightmare vision of Eraserhead to his biggest popular success, Twin Peaks (now back on our television screens), Lynch’s filming is typically and deliberately opaque.
It doesn’t help that the director consistently refuses to explain or, when he does, frequently contradicts himself. Sometimes – as when asked about the blue box that is the fulcrum of Mulholland Drive – Lynch says he doesn’t know the answer himself. Given his stream-of-consciousness approach to film-making, that may even be true.
Mystery man: David Lynch has never been keen to explain his films (Photo: Chris Saunders)
My approach to watching Lynch: don’t actively try to make sense of it; concentrate, but relax; let the film wash over you and, once it’s over, ask yourself the most important question of all: did you enjoy it?
This suspension of conventional critical faculties is oddly liberating, and there’s still plenty of time afterwards to analyse, theorise and come up with your own personal answer to that ‘what the f**k’ question.
To one person, Lost Highway is about wish fulfilment and the monsters of the Id; to another, it’s an exploration of the unreliability of memory; to a third, it’s an impenetrably pretentious pile of crap.
Lynch’s refusal to explain shifts the burden from him to us: we have to form our own impressions and theories for what we’ve just seen. ‘It’s my creative vision,’ he seems to be saying, ‘but you’ve got to do the work and decide what it’s about, and what it means for you.’ Not so much audience participation as audience responsibility.
I’d love to see philosophy applied to whisky tastings. All too often, the host is telling us what flavours we’ll ‘get’ before our glasses have even been filled – the infuriating whisky equivalent to David Lynch nudging you throughout a screening of Blue Velvet and saying: ‘You’ll like this bit.’
Then, once things are opened up to the floor, the competitive sport that is tasting note oneupmanship takes over. Everyone’s so busy trying to describe the precise tropical fruit flavour in their whisky that they’ve forgotten to notice whether they actually like it or not.
Just because formal tastings have a quasi-academic format and atmosphere, that doesn’t mean the pleasure factor should be altogether discounted. Far from that, shouldn’t it come first?
Do I like it? Why do I like it? Then: what do others think? We might all want to address the question ‘what the f**k was that all about?’, but the answer surely has to begin in our own heads.
- New Macallan Concept explores the ‘unusual’
- Five of the world’s best whisky collections
- Conor McGregor unveils Proper No. 12 whiskey
- Glen Moray Cider Cask in Scotch first
- White Walker released by Johnnie Walker
- New whisky reviews: Batch 170
- Bourbon tops Whisky Bible rankings again
- Johnnie Walker releases 50 Year Old whisky
- Caol Ila, Glenkinchie unveil visitor plans
- Macallan Easter Elchies Black sold by ballot
Features 07 August 2017
Decades of marketing-led mythology have created many outdated Scotch whisky beliefs.
Latest news 16 October 2018
HRH has requested the whisky, gifted to him upon a distillery visit, be bottled for charity.
Latest news 16 October 2018
The industry legend and man behind the Diageo Classic Malts has passed away.
Latest news 15 October 2018
The indie bottler’s latest anniversary whisky contains malts from every region in Scotland.