The USP (unique selling point) for White Horse Scotch is its peatiness. What is peat? Well, have we got a story for you. It is the earth. On the moist moors of Scotland and Ireland, the source of heat and fire for centuries has been peat. It is sliced out of the ground into bricks, and then stacked in the sun and coastal wind to dry. Once dried, the bricks are used as fuel for the fires of the homes for all heat and fire needs.
How does this relate to scotch? Well, the hops and barley used to make the whiskey is placed on racks over a fire burning with - what else but - peat! The rich and thick earthy smoke infiltrates the hops and barley, which is then fermented to make the whiskey. This results in the distinctive smoky, peaty, earthy nose and taste that makes scotch, scotch. And any scotch drinker that knows his scotch will tell you White Horse is the peatiest of all blended Scotch whisky.
We didn’t have bricks of peat in NYC, and we couldn’t even buy one and have it shipped. What to do? Our photographer, Chris Collins, in NYC, hired a prop man. The prop man got a brick of Styrofoam, went to Little Italy in NYC, and collected a pan of rich, black dirt. With glue and magic, wha-la we had a brick of peat. He took two sheets of plywood and smeared them with plaster, added some texture, a few hundred years of wear and tear, and now we had a Scottish whisky cellar. Well you can see the result. We researched the type of tasting glass used, and hired an illustrator to illustrate our peat cutter and barley. We then told the story of White Horse and weaved the copy around the illustrations like a storybook. The ad ran in NY Times magazine and was written up in ADWEEK.
Side note- we finished the shoot in lower East Village Manhattan on a Friday late afternoon, early evening. There was a case of scotch, of course, to find the perfect label for the shoot. At the end of the shoot we divided up the case of scotch. Somehow I ended up with half the case (6 bottles). I walked outside with them and it was pouring down rain. If you ever tried to get a cab in NYC on a Friday afternoon in the pouring down rain, you know what I was up against. Well, after about 7 blocks walking uptown with about 90 to go, the scotch was getting less worth its weight. I came across a person who was living on the street, curled up in a doorway out of the rain. I tapped him on the shoulder, he looked up and I handed him a bottle of scotch. He looked up and said, “You must be an angel”. That felt so good I repeated it all the way to midtown and finally got a cab and made it home with one bottle of scotch.