It’s not everyday I get to review a film here on this blog, much less one about my favorite subject: whiskey. With NEAT: The Story of Bourbon, director David Altrogge has crafted a thoroughly engaging story about not only bourbon, but the people who make it, live it, love it, collect it, mix it, dig it, and drink it.
The documentary follows the chronological timeline of America’s native spirit, from the distillation of whiskey by early pioneers to the current thriving bourbon environment. Distillers from the major American bourbon distilleries move the history along, preaching their love of the spirit along the way.
Two people anchor the film: Castle and Key Master Distiller Marianne Barnes and third generation Buffalo Trace employee Freddie Johnson. Barnes shares some firsts on camera, like buying corn and filling barrels, as viewers join in her journey of reviving a historical distillery with a new brand. Johnson continues to wear his passion for bourbon on his sleeve with every story he tells. It’s clear after watching that both Barnes and Johnson have bourbon running through their veins.
Occasionally, Altrogge interjects bourbon facts presented by none other than actor Steve Zahn. Keep an eye on that fox! The comedic interludes also prove educational, informing viewers of important milestones in the spirit’s history, like the Bottled-In-Bond Act.
NEAT is the eye-candy equivalent of a that first sip of bourbon hitting your tongue, featuring mesmorizing images captured with flair by cinematographer Michael J. Hartnett. Magic hour photography, backlit bottles, and slow-motion pours (and that bokeh – oh my!) only add to the beauty of the storytelling.
Grab a glass of your favorite bourbon, turn down the lights, and take a trip down bourbon lane. Altrogge’s NEAT is a film for the whiskey drinker, both experienced and novice, filled with knowledge, passion and heart.
Highly recommended. 🥃🥃🥃🥃
NEAT: The Store of Bourbon is now available to rent or purchase on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon.