9 Halloween movies & matching whiskies

Halloween is approaching fast. In Belgium it's a less common celebration on 31 October.  20 years ago no one had even heard of it and it is still struggling to set foot on land (although shops are packed with costumes and other wannabe creepy stuff). Very few people sent out their kids dressed as friendly ghosts, pirates or zombified Justin Biebers after dark.

The only reason I (ab)use Halloween, is to dust off my collection of horror DVD's (call me old school, still no blue ray or Netflix here) and pour myself a fitting dram.

Let me pick 9 classic horror movies from my collection and pair it with a matching whisky.

The Exorcist (1973) - Ardbeg Uigeadail

The Exorcist might very well be the greatest horror movie of all times. Although we could debate on the matter in the same way as picking the best whisky in the world. The movie deals with a demonic possession of the 12-year old Regan by an evil spirit called Pazuzu. Two Catholic priests are called upon to save the girl. Forty years later, you still better watch this movie with the lights on.

The only fitting dram I see to battle Pazuzu is the Ardbeg Uigeadail. Big, bold and foul-mouthed. The possessed Regan in a glass. Classic Ardbeg smoke teamed up with dirty sherry notes (provided you got a good batch of Oogie).

Alien (1979) - Octomore 7.1

Another absolute classic.  The computers might have aged a bit, but H.R. Giger's alien has not lost an inch of its gloomy attractiveness. The first Alien movie left a lasting impression on me. Seeing this movie at the age of 10 for the first time might have something to do with it. Needless to say that a walk through a dark alley was... daunting. The dark atmosphere and occasional sightings of the alien created a thrilling movie.

The biomechanic drawings from H.R. Giger always remind me of Bruichladdich’s experimental Octomore. A dram that would feel itself at home in the cold dark home of a spaceship. No easy sipper, but the movie wasn’t either the first time. This movie and whisky combination lies at the very basis op this blog post.

The Shining (1980) - Benromach 10

Very few movies equal Stephen King’s books. But give the reigns to Stanley Kubrick and the lead role to Jack Nicholson and you’ve got an instant classic that influenced the genre for the decades to come. Some scenes and quotes (Here’s Johnny!) are considered a cultural heritage. The movie remains fairly faithful to the book. The Torrance family arrives at an isolated hotel. Jack Torrance, a writer, applies for the position of winter caretaker and wants to profit from the solitude to write. But the hotel has other plans with the family…

It would have been way too easy to pick a Jack Daniel’s n°7 for that’s the whiskey Jack Torrance orders in the Gold Room while having a chat with Lloyd. Instead I’d pick a Benromach 10. Just like the movie it leaves a lasting impression. Refined with a touch of smoke. Something to savour in the lobby of a classy hotel. The Overlook hotel for instance…

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) - Balcones Brimstone

If Hitchcock’s Psycho created the slasher subgenre, Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre popularised it. The story is bold and simple. A bunch of young people fall victim to a family of murderous cannibals featuring an iconic killer, Leatherface. Screams, bones and blood.

I had no other choice than to pick a Texan malt worthy of Leatherface. One quickly arrives at Balcones Brimstone single malt. An innovative smoky whisky distilled from corn. This is probably the whisky the family of cannibals would serve after dinner.

Shaun of The Dead (2004) - Springbank 10

Aaah, one of my all-time favourite zombie movies. The British take on a zombie apocalypse packed with references to classic horror movies. Every time you view it, there’s another reference or a detail that pops up. Don’t content yourself with viewing this romantic comedy with zombies only once. Something to watch on Halloween with the mrs. (or mr.). A must see!

A movie that gets only better the more you see it. That calls for a dram that gets better the more you sample it. Meet Springbank 10. One of the last independent whisky companies that delivers mouthwatering drams for the whisky nerds.

Dead Snow (2009) - Mackmyra Vinterrök

Yet another zombie movie? Yes, but one of the better ones from Scandinavia with more than one original death. A group of Norwegian students go on vacation in a remote cabin. They encounter a group of nazi zombies wanting to retrieve their stolen treasure and… all bloody hell breaks loose in a snowy setting.

Picking a Scandinavian movie calls for a Scandinavian dram. One ultimately ends up with a Mackmyra Vinterrök. It's a bit of a unique smoky Mackmyra where they dried the barley using juniper only. It's supposed to be a traditional Swedish tradition to smoke food with juniper.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) - Highland Park 12

A lost footage style movie that went viral in an age when the internet was in its infance (admit, that seems ages ago).  The movie consists of  fragments 'recovered' footage from three student filmmakers in hunt of a local legend. The directors created a mockumentary prior to the release of the movie and distributed flyers to make it all the more realistic.

Since most of the movie has been filmed in the woods I'd pick a smoky whisky with heathery and woody notes. A description that fits Highland Park 12 perfectly. Still one of the best whiskies out there and reasonably priced. Something to pack on a camping trip in the woods.

Dracula (1931/1992) - Tomatin 14 Port Wood

Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel has been at the core of tons of vampire movies and television series. Coppola’s interpretation is a colourful vision with massive amount of detail put into the costumes. This movies also remained very true to the original novel. But the 1931 version starring the vampire actor of vampire actors, Bela Lugosi didn't lose its charm. I couldn't choose between the two.

Given the Victorian setting of the movies, I picked out the Port Matured Tomatin, something more refined and vibrant. Tomato’s 14 year old Port cask matured whisky checks all those boxes. A typical Highland whisky impregnated with all the essential qualities of port casks. And of course, port and wines were the drink of the discerning Londoner.

Dawn of The Dead (1978) - Corsair Ryemageddon

The mother of all zombie movies and still George Romero’s best work. A group of survivors take shelter in a shopping mall and try to hide from an invasion of zombies . A feast of comic-style blood and guts with a few funny deaths. But let’s not forget the movie was partly a satire aimed at the modern consumer society. Romero’s vision was a bit different from the usual American happy ending. No cavalry that saves the world, only uncertainty is left.

Most of the movie was shot in Pennsylvania, a state renown for its rye whiskies. The apocalyptic vision of Romero only pushes you towards Corsair’s Ryemageddon. An american rye whiskey distilled from malted rye and chocolate rye.

This list is far from complete. I could easily have added a few more movies. Halloween, Evil Dead, The Hills have eyes, Ringu, A Nightmare on Elm Street. Enough inspiration to compile another list for Halloween 2017.

If you have any whisky and Halloween movie pairings yourself, feel free to share it with me.