Monday, March 17, 2014

Crimson The Color of Blood (1973)

Today's Installment of SiscoVanilla at the Movies takes a decidedly foreign "B" movie flavor with Crimson: The Color of Blood aka Las ratas no duermen de noche aka The Man with the Severed Head (1973).

Directed by Juan Fortuny, Crimson is about a group of criminals who while trying to escape a botched jewelry story heist has one of their members seriously injured with a bullet to the head. In trying to save him, they call upon the doctor who operates on all the criminals. The doctor is a drunken mess and declares that he can't do anything for him. But comes up with the idea of visiting a former colleague who has done work in the field of brain trauma. The movie takes a decidedly sci-fi turn when the plot is hatched to save the injured criminal with ignored consequences. Vague enough for you? Good. Now go to Netflix and watch the movie.

The movie is a Spanish production, filmed in France and dubbed/subtitled in English. I like to see how the fashion of the early 1970's is on display in this movie. It reminds me of looking at old pictures of my parents from the same era. In terms of spirits, the feel is also decidedly 1970's with old scotch brands being the only spirits clearly visible in a number of scenes.

In this scene Henry (Olivier Mathot) clearly has a bottle of White Horse Scotch Whisky in view.

White Horse is one of those Scotch whisky brands like Cutty Sark that brings back memories of stuff that my dad would have drank in the 70's. Now the White Horse brand doesn't have an official website. It is currently owned by the corporate company Diageo and this is where I start with my fact finding mission.

According to the Diageo listing for White Horse:
Launch: 1890 (this is the earliest reference; and is also the date that White Horse was registered as a trade mark in the UK by Peter Jeffrey Mackie)...White Horse Blended Scotch Whisky is named after one of Scotland's famous coaching inns. The White Horse Cellar Inn in Edinburgh was the starting place for the eight-day coach trip to London.
Now from what I'm reading, Peter Mackie was quite the character. The listing for White Horse on the ClubWhisky website lists him as being as follows:
Peter Mackie, founder and first blender of White Horse Scotch Whisky, has been described as "one third genius, one third megalomaniac, one third eccentric". And by all accounts, he was all three.

"If we cannot afford to buy the best, especially in the matter of Scotch whisky," he was fond of saying," we should save our money and go without." Affectionately known as "Restless Pete", a name he acquired because of his unstoppable enthusiasm and unbridled genius, Sir Peter dedicated the rest of his life to producing only the best. 
White Horse Scotch Whisky is a blended whisky that contains the single malt whisky Lagavulin as one of the whiskys used in the blending. As the label states:
White Horse Scotch Whisky is a fine matured blend containing at its heart the unique flavor of Lagavulin, a single malt whisky from the Islay in the Hebrides...Aged a minimum of 3 years according to the Scotch Whisky act of the United Kingdom.
Click here to download the pdf listing for the Scotch Whisky Association's The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 (2/12/2009). For a review of White Horse Scotch whisky, click on Jason's Scotch Whisky Review's listing for White Horse called Review: White Horse Blended Scotch Whisky from May 10, 2012.

For an interesting view of White Horse Scotch Whisky and Scotland in the 1930's, watch the following video:

The other scotch whisky brand that is clearly seen in the next two pictures is J&B scotch whisky

J&B scotch whisky is also a blended whisky whose history is paved on the boulevard of broken hearts. According to the J&B website:
1749- Our history dates back to 1749 when Giacomo Justerini, an Italian from Bologna, came to London to woo the Italian opera singer Margherita Bellino. Spurned, he remained in London and set himself up as a Wine Merchant in Pall Mall with his English partner George Johnson. Together they ran a very fashionable and successful business catering to London’s high living aristocracy.

1760- Johnson and Justerini win the first of their nine Royal Warrants (as suppliers of fine wines and spirits to the Royal Household) from King George III.

1779- Johnson and Justerini advertise their fine wines, spirits and liqueurs in “The Morning Post” – 17 June. This included “Usquebaugh” the original name for whisky and is the first recorded advertisement in our history.

1831- Alfred Brooks buys the business from the third generation of Johnson and renames it Justerini & Brooks.

1930’s – J&B RARE as we know it today is born – created primarily from when Prohibition in the United States is lifted, to give Americans something palatable after all the illegal moonshine they had been drinking.
For a bit more in depth and entertaining history of the J&B brand, check out the following video:

In terms of the kind of scotch whisky that J&B is, the website describes it as such:
Each time you sip J&B RARE, 42 different whiskies pass your lips. They are carefully blended together to create a subtle, smooth and complex flavour. The delicate balance is what gives J&B RARE its distinctive character. If we took even one whisky away you would taste the difference.

The heart of J&B RARE is formed by Speyside Malt Whiskies. They provide the fruity, fresh quality you can taste, and give J&B its light colour. Speyside is recognised as the superior area in Scotland for making malt.

Added to that are some of the finest grain whiskies Scotland has to offer. They help reveal the individual flavours of the various malts, unveiling the pleasant, smooth character of J&B.
I'm actually quite surprised by this post. I went from being about two scotch whiskys found in a Spanish/French "B" movie to a very informative glimpse into the history of scotch whisky. You never know what will lead you to discovery which is why I like to live by the mantra: You need to learn something new everyday. Not doing so will be wasting your life here on earth. I defintely learned something new today. I hope you did as well.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla