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The Water of Life

The Water of Life is a feature documentary that focuses on the craftsmen, chemists, and renegades at the heart of the whisky revolution that turned the stagnant scotch whisky industry of the 1980s into the titan it is today.

Starting behind the locked gates of an abandoned distillery, Jim McEwan and Mark Reynier share their personal experiences of the risk-taking and wild experimentation they used to turn Bruichladdich into what it is today.

The film takes you on the journeys of other early visionaries like Gordon & MacPhail, Billy Walker, Dr. Rachel Barrie and David Stewart, whose mixture of talent, chemistry, hard work, grit, and a little sprinkle of magic paved the way for the next generation of innovators like Adam Hannett, Kelsey McKechnie, Liam Hughes, Iain Croucher, and Eddie Brook.

  • Greg Swartz
    Another Harvest Moon
  • Trevor Jones
    Another Harvest Moon, Bounty Killer, Hated
  • Alfonse Palaima
  • Brad Kenyon
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Food & Drink
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 28 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 17, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    249,525 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Greg Swartz

Twenty years ago, Greg Swartz walked away from a job as a newspaper reporter in his native Pennsylvania, making the move to Los Angeles to make films. After spending a year at Warner Bros., he moved into commercial production, eventually developing a client roster that includes Kia, BMW, United Airlines, and Gray Advertising.

His directorial debut Another Harvest Moon — described by Box-office Magazine as “Powerful, poignant, honest, uncompromising, and touching” — won two “Audience Choice” awards and stars Ernest Borgnine, Piper Laurie, Doris Roberts, Cybill Shepherd, Anne Meara and Richard Schiff. It’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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Director Statement

One of the challenges of making a film about food or drink — really THE challenge — is that the audience cannot taste the product on the screen.

Some shows feature customer after customer extolling the virtues of each bite.

Others, like Netflix’s Chef’s Table, create an immersive experience meant to look and feel like the food itself, almost as if the other senses will help us extrapolate the flavors.

We knew from the start that that was what we wanted to do.
By using rich — almost decadent — images, we hope to show the ingredients, the terroir, the people, the equipment, and the time that all play vital roles in creating whisky.

Scotland is beautiful but it is not pretty. The landscape is harsh and even treacherous. Using as many as eight cameras, we have captured — no, showcased! — Scotland at its rugged best. And as our own experts will tell you in the film, the scenery and the people are prevalent in each glass of whisky. Whisky wouldn’t taste like whisky if Scotland looked like Miami.