Meet Nettie — and the new film highlighting the figure’s important and remarkable legacy in The Macallan’s history.
Collaborations between heavyweights and juggernauts have always been exciting. Think between the lines of Ariana Grande collaborating with Kelly Clarkson; Real Madrid partnering up with Zegna; or six prominent female authors (Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon, Nic Stone, and Angie Thomas) coming together to work on a new novel, Whiteout, together. When executed to sublime perfection, the result is always impeccable and utterly stunning.
The same can be said about The Spirit of 1926, a new global film by renowned single malt whisky distillery The Macallan. The short eight-minute campaign biopic sees much-acclaimed industry players team up to tell the story of Janet Harbinson (or Nettie). The real-life story unveils the profound legacy of The Macallan’s former managing director and how the important figure played a part in crafting The Macallan Fine & Rare 1926 — also known as “the most valuable bottle of wine or spirit sold at auction”. #Milestone.
Janet Harbinson’s connection to The Macallan started through her father, Roderick Kemp (former owner of the distillery) and her husband, Alexander, who was running the distillery before passing away in 1918 towards the end of the First World War. Through her love and passion for the employees and the community, Nettie then assumed control of the distillery. It is exactly because of her dedication, craftsmanship, and commitment to the people around her that helped rebuild the local area as well as keeping The Macallan afloat.
Her legacy was enforced once again in 2019 when The Macallan Fine & Rare 1926, a bottle she crafted during her time at the distillery, fetched £1.5 million (approximately RM8,264,115) at Sotheby’s. Through that achievement, both Nettie and the blend (bottled in 1986) were quickly elevated to legendary status — not just in the history of The Macallan, but all over the world. Three years on, its record-breaking title still stands, strong and proud.
The Spirit of 1926 (a thread that connects The Macallan’s past and present) was accomplished and pulled off by a group of reputable creative names. They include English director Mark Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Donnie Brasco, and Great Expectations), screenwriter Allan Scott (The Queen’s Gambit and Castaway) — who happens to be Nettie Harbinson’s great nephew and former The Macallan chairman; as well as talented British-American actress Emily Mortimer who has starred in numerous films including Shutter Island, Mary Poppins Returns, and Notting Hill.
Of course, a complete and refined mise en scene is what makes a brilliant film what it is. For The Spirit of 1926, current Global Creative Director for The Macallan and film producer Jaume Ferras sought the prowess of Scottish fashion designer and classic Scottish band Simple Minds to create a series of 1920s outfits and an exclusive soundtrack for the Scotch whisky brand’s film respectively. The designer utilised a bespoke The Macallan tweed for his work in the campaign.
Audiences will also be able to spot a 1920s Bentley, The Macallan’s global automative partner, and food concocted by long-time gastronomy partner, the Roca brothers. Last but definitely not least, opulent French crystal makers Lalique provided exclusive jewellery from its elusive archives for the film.
Every collaborator for the eight-minute film share The Macallan’s characteristics of undeniable creativity and incomparable craftsmanship. Those exact elements are also reflected in The Spirit of 1926, which can be best described as a personification of The Macallan’s brand values.
Slated to be screened in select cinemas globally, on YouTube, and on The Macallan’s website from 16 November 2022, the short film is set on the distillery’s gorgeous 485-acre estate in Speyside, Scotland and is an homage to an extraordinary woman whose remarkable story is finally being told to the world. Her contribution to the brand is getting the recognition it deserves.
For more information, visit The Macallan HERE.
(All photos by The Macallan)