Potch Ghoo. Fabulous Scotch Whisky, though not a single malt. It’s mysterious, coming from the Isle of Skye, in Scotland, one of the special places on earth.
Pierre Lemoullac, the sommelier at L’Ambrosie in Paris, used to play tricks on me. One of Pacaud’s specialties is a chocolate tart and it is next to impossible to pair a wine or spirit with chocolate. One evening Pierre poured an aperitif to match the chocolate and it was astonishing. He covered the bottle and asked if I knew. I went through the normal litany, Cognac, Calvados, Armagnac. No, no, no.
One of the perks of the business is travel and experience. I had filmed in Cognac and tasted a fabulous Cognac, single vineyard, Ragnaud. Madame Ragnaud ran the place and she insisted I try all of her Cognacs to decide on the one(s) I enjoyed most. When I had filmed in her cellar, I noticed an ancient cask and asked the cellar manager what it was. He informed me that it was a cask of Cognac from the early nineteenth century, Paradis. He said that they take a measure from this cask and add it to each vintage to maintain a history.
Anyway, it wasn’t Cognac, it was Poit Dhubh. I’ve been attached to this wonderful drink ever since, and ‘there’s the rub.’ It’s impossible to find and not available in the States. Poit Dhubh means Black Pot or Illicit Still and doesn’t have a tax stamp. It’s even a mystery on Skye.
IBM needed a vignette and the agency had specced out Ireland.
Scotland is better for that.
I know exactly the place, a narrow valley overlooking a beautiful firth.
What’s a firth (Abbott and Costello?)
It’s an inlet.
Why didn’t you call it that?
Because it’s Scotland and in Scotland it’s a firth.
I really wanted to go to Skye to taste and perhaps get some Poit Dhubh.
We get to Scotland, Skye, and the beautiful valley is socked in and the agency has no idea whether it’s as beautiful as promised. The locals say it is but the locals always say that. I use this opportunity to go to the distillery when we break for lunch. The problem is that no one in production or on the crew has ever heard of Poit Dhubh needless the distillery. That’s strange since there are perhaps 10,000 people in Skye, not a big place.
Austin and I and a local PA jump into a car to begin a search. After we’ve stopped a few locals, paydirt. An elderly gentleman with a cane and a dog gives us the place and by some miracle it’s not far from our shooting location.
Austin and I taste, make our choices, and flee with our contraband.
Location is still socked in and the agency is pacing. The actors and sheep are set. The actors know their lines, so…
I steal a scene from the THIEF OF BAGDAD, where the evil Grand Vizier, played by the brilliant Conrad Veidt, calls for wind to sink Abu’s boat. I walk away from the crew and agency and cast, raise my arms and shout (hysterically).
Everyone thinks I’m nuts but the clouds break, the sun appears lighting the beautiful valley and firth, and we get the shot.