Dewar’s is From Glasgow, And Glasgow is Gritty, and Maybe You Are Too

Have you seen the new TV advertisements for Dewar’s? They’re theatrical and well produced, like those Heineken spots, but a lot grittier. Thing is, the people at Dewar’s realize that we’re not all living the lifestyle embodied by the Scotches of yesteryear. We don’t sip our drams in leather armchairs in the library of some massive estate, hunting dog at our feet and an oil painting of a scowling patriarch hanging on the wall above us. Nope, more likely we’re enjoying our whisky at a bar, house party, or in a clandestine lounge behind a curtain in a sketchy-looking auto shop by the docks of Glasgow. Wait, what? Look, just watch the ad and it will all come back to you.

You see? Don’t you remember the time you were driving that luxury car through the gritty streets of Glasgow? And you drove along some partially abandoned docks, and there was a black-and-white checkered lighthouse, and a fishing boat, and a crane, and a white horse and a car on fire for some reason, but it made sense at the time? And a guy with a black leather jacket opened up the bay doors of a warehouse for you, and you drove in, parked the car, got out, and walked past some tough-looking guys working on cars, and maybe it was a way station for stolen cars, and maybe it was a completely legitimate auto repair business, but you didn’t care because you were on a mission? And this older guy with white hair led you through the back, past corrugated steel walls to an elevator that opened to a dark curtain, which the guy parted for you and you entered a really cool lounge that had chandeliers and an art deco-style bar? And there was nobody in the bar, you were there to drink alone, or possibly to meet somebody, so you took a lone glass off a shelf and helped yourself to two perfect ice cubes that were in an ice bucket that was filled with fresh ice just for you, and you opened a bottle of Dewar’s White Label and poured two fingers for yourself, and then took the glass and bottle and sat down on a couch with red satin and smooth gray velour cushions? And you talked about taking life seriously, because even though it’s not always easy, it comes with serious benefits? And then some off-screen guy named Angus said something weird and you basically told him to stuff it because you were having your serious drink? Also, you were a woman?

I knew it would come back to you. Yes, this is the way we drink today. And while I poke fun–this is marketing, after all, so let’s please not take it too seriously–I get what the spot, and the others in the series, is getting at. For most of us, even amid all this supposedly labor-saving technology in the world, life is hard, but if you can grind it out you’ll find your rewards. Maybe it will be a hidden lounge behind some Glasgow chop shop, and maybe it will be happy hour at the local Chili’s, but if you put in the sweat, you’ll get yours, and it will feel all the better for your labors.

The commercial is part of a larger campaign for Dewar’s about defining what the "drinking man" is about. From what I can gather, he’s about hard work and courage and confidence and creativity and maybe a flash of kindness for those deemed worthy.

Dewar’s had a cool event in New York recently that started at Milk & Honey and ended at Madam Geneva. I only made it to the latter portion, since the drinking man picks up his kids at school when his wife gets stuck at the office, but I think I hit the right one. At Milk & Honey, people learned how to mix cocktails and blend whisky. To me that sounds like work, which I was done with for the day. At Madam Geneva, we just sampled a selection of cocktails made with Dewar’s. They were all great, but my favorite was Dewar’s 18 on the rocks, with its gorgeous golden color and creamy notes of honey and spice. That’s technically not a cocktail, of course, but I’m a drinking man and I earned it. 

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