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Albert is an extraordinary master craftsman

Notes of a photographic journey in Spain, from Jerez to Santander

We challenged ourselves to make The Macallan Masters of Photography Edition 2 quite different from the Rankin Edition, and so we were delighted to give this project to Albert Watson to be shot in a very filmic way with a fine art dimension.

Following the journey of our exceptional oak casks from the cool forests of northern Spain, to the baking heat of our cooperage in Jerez, then to the magnificence of the Highlands of Scotland, ending up at the holy grail that is The Macallan Estate was always going to be a challenge; but telling an art noire story of discovery and effectively shooting an exhibition of fine art prints has been mind bogglingly difficult.

Arriving in Jerez last Sunday with a crew of 14 plus 27 equipment cases was already a logistical challenge, but each location had its own issues to be overcome.

Albert is an extraordinary master craftsman, with an uncanny, rapid and decisive eye for a shot, but most importantly the skill to almost paint with light that is a forgotten art. As we sped around the Spanish countryside with what was effectively a studio to be packed and unpacked at each location, it was a marvel to see the speed and precision at which he worked.

The cooperage, with its open fires and at times fog of sawdust and wood shavings, all in an outside temperature of 41 degrees, required supreme concentration and resolve from the sweat stained crew and models to get the desired result. All with the mantra of Albert looking for singular shots and not just shooting documentary footage.

The attempt to find vineyard locations was a physical challenge of dusty roads, furnace-like heat and disappointment, as our preferred location had dug up its vines two weeks before, rendering it useless. Ultimately, late in the afternoon on the second day we drove over a hill to see the perfect location and gorgeous light, and suddenly everything fell into place.

The contrast of asking the local zoo and botanical park to open up in the early morning, so that we could shoot the perfect tree, next to the White Tiger and peacock enclosures added an almost surreal and comic element to the proceedings.

Running out of time and searching determinedly with this vigorous and indefatigable genius for a moody shot in the cool, dark bodegas of Gonzalez Byass required stamina and skill to avoid the early summer tourists in our way. Once discovered, the ability to set up a romantic and cinematic shot with our hero and heroine, lit with Rembrandt like skill was astonishing.

The skilful management of a big crew, to keep their energy up and to get them on their game in seconds to execute a precise fine art shot was a skill in itself.

All the time the self imposed pressure was on our behind the scene film crew and me to tell the story of this remarkable undertaking in a way that no one has ever done before. Using real time documentary by producing a video blog every 2 days, a gallery of photographs daily and also to share via Twitter and audioboo sound bites of the action and tying it all together in a live gps map resulted in lots of action but little sleep.

The north of Spain, in the form of Santander, saw a cooler environment with a richness of textures and people but the problem of how to light a large dark sawmill and make it interesting. Glorious forest vistas were selected but then disaster as a cold weather front from the Atlantic brought leaden skies and chilling drizzle.

We returned the next day to a different climate from the baking heat of southern Spain. It took all of Albert's years of skill, in lighting, composition and perspective to escape with the bare minimum of shots needed for this part of our photographic journey.

And so, after six months planning, the Spanish leg of our trip is over and we have enough shots to tell the story of our art noire, evocative road trip and, just as importantly, the precious fine art shots for our exhibition.

Then the long journey from Santander to Elgin, arriving exhausted at 1am but up with the lark to see what the Scottish part of our journey brings. Keep reading to find out.

The Macallan Residence

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How would you drink #DoubleCask 12 Years Old?

16 Sep 16
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Notes of vanilla from American oak combined with rich fruit tones of European oak casks - welcome #DoubleCask 12 YO https://t.co/7lLfBGAJFm

14 Sep 16
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Why not try making the The Sherry Julep? Oloroso Sherry, maple & mint - a great mix to join #DoubleCask 12 Years Old https://t.co/RG7ueKlHQO

12 Sep 16
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Neat, over ice or mixed - The Macallan #DoubleCask 12 Years Old is one of our most versatile whiskies yet https://t.co/nJcmuoProE

09 Sep 16
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Clear some shelf space - The Macallan #DoubleCask 12 Years Old can now join Sherry Oak 12 YO and Fine Oak 12 YO https://t.co/wYw5otgtnt

07 Sep 16
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Matured in the perfect balance of sherry seasoned European and American oak casks, #DoubleCask 12 is coming soon https://t.co/2kp4JljqKh

06 Sep 16
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Introducing The Macallan #DoubleCask 12 Years Old. The perfect balance of European and American oak casks https://t.co/zJTr1litiw

05 Sep 16
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Heading back in time with some vintage Macallan for the weekend. Image from our own Master Distiller @nickJsavage https://t.co/mo1H3pRaxR

02 Sep 16
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Ok, let's play fantasy #WhiskyWednesday. This is your collection, you can pick just one, what's it going to be? https://t.co/gZsJt9ze4Z

31 Aug 16
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Monday #WhiskyEnvy arrives from @Dan_Pittet . Tag your posts of The Macallan #MyMacallan to feature https://t.co/qqaufPzSoV

29 Aug 16
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Quick #TwitterPoll. Since they launched last year, which of these have you tried?

27 Aug 16
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Friday night, why not mix up the #CrowdSourcedCocktail you created last month? https://t.co/vBURK8DVV4

26 Aug 16
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Has it really been a year since The Macallan Rare Cask Black launched? Good time for this @chidywayne repost https://t.co/0u8OiXPOBx

24 Aug 16
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Another new member of the #EasterElchies team. New General Manager, Jody Marshall, will show you a warm welcome https://t.co/n4vDIVcgcr

23 Aug 16
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Travelling via Amsterdam Airport Schiphol soon? The Macallan is Malt of the Month in duty free #AnyExcuse https://t.co/FNj2j12JpA

22 Aug 16
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Throwback to behind-the-scenes of Masters of Photography 5 with @mariotestino #WorldPhotoDay https://t.co/gvZDny9VNi

19 Aug 16
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Today we raise a glass to Willie Bremner our former ghillie, who sadly passed away this week https://t.co/f01qo0cmaf

19 Aug 16

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