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How Filmland Spirits Uses B-Movies to Add Whimsy to American Whiskey

Filmland Spirits brings a bit of fun to the mostly staid world of American whiskey with ryes and bourbons modeled after pulpy movies.


There are a lot of American whiskey brands in the world. There’s just one, however, that is based around the type of movies that are so bad they’re good: Filmland Spirits.

Filmland brings some refreshing whimsy to the American whiskey landscape. Most of the bottles on liquor store shelves are reserved and classic with labels and names that harken back to some pre-Prohibition bourbon pioneer, or even use custom bottles shaped like Prohibition’s “medicinal” whiskey bottles. The best sellers mostly come from a handful of the biggest names in bourbon. Filmland’s aesthetic is inspired by retro monster and robot B-movies. The labels have the pulp fiction styling of ‘50s movie posters, not unlike the original War of the Worlds poster, while the bottle is designed to look like old art deco movie houses.

Taking the film concept further, each whiskey gets a movie trailer and original story concept (Moonlight Mayhem about a love between a werewolf and human, for example, and a robot bartender with lasers for eyes with Ryes of the Robots). Cask strength bourbons and ryes are marketed as “extended cuts” of the original releases. Small excerpts and character bios are on the bottles, and the full story is on the Filmland website.

Filmland Spirits started in 2022. According to the company’s site, the idea started when Troy Bolotnick and Charlie Flint took a distillery tour in 2015. By 2020, Rick Dukhovny, Kristin Killpack, and Daniel Clarke joined the team.

True to the Filmland spirits ethos, the team’s coming together is all told in storyboard format. There’s even a bit of script “dialogue” on the page about bringing on Killpack where she says, “I’m sure you’re nice people, but the world needs another bourbon brand about as much as it needs more Zumba instructors.” She is eventually won over by Bolotnick’s “charts, graphs, dollar signs” on a PowerPoint.

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You won’t find a distiller on the company bios. That’s because it’s sourced, according to the back of the bottle, from Indiana (not all great bourbons come from Kentucky). That’s not the American whiskey sin that it once was. Cherished brands like High West, Smooth Ambler, Redemption, Widow Jane, and Barrell Craft Spirits all use whiskey from the mega Indiana distiller MGP either in part or in whole. That’s only a small handful–The Bourbon Exchange has a much longer list.

Transparency helped turn sourced whiskey from a dirty word to something better understood as people started to appreciate that there were some high quality ryes and bourbons to be had in the sourced market that are slightly differentiated through the art of barrel selection and blending. Filmland Spirits, however, does not explicitly disclose its whiskey source–in an email, I was told that sourcing is done through distilleries making “some of the finest whiskey from across the country” that are aged, blended, finished, and bottled in Kentucky.

One testament to the fact that good sources mean good whiskey? All of Filmland’s lineup has won Gold or higher in spirits competitions.

Getting noticed is hard for American whiskey brands these days. Shelf space is limited, and the options feel endless. I tend to agree in most cases with Killpack’s storyboard statement: does the world really need another bourbon brand? Filmland’s labels and interactive story concepts, however, certainly stand out from the crowd. That goes for the niche of B-movie lovers and the regular public alike–these bottles are some of the first that guests gravitate toward and ask questions about even sitting on my home bar alongside more storied names and high-priced, after-market bottles.

At the end of the day, flavor is really what matters, and Filmland’s bold concepts are equally matched by the liquid itself, making them a worthy addition to any whiskey fan’s lineup. The type of movies Filmland draws inspiration from may have a bad to the point of being enjoyable quality, but Filmland’s spirits are simply enjoyable.

Ryes of the Robots
Ryes of the Robots

Full of rye spice, cinnamon, baking spices, and white pepper, this bottle packs some heat served neat at 47% ABV, but stands out in whiskey-forward cocktails and has a lasting finish on the rocks. It has about as rye-heavy a mashbill as you'll find with 95% rye and 5% malted barley, and is aged for a minimum of 4 years in American white oak.

Buy: $54.99
Moonlight Mayhem!
Moonlight Mayhem!

A classic bourbon with corn sweetness, vanilla, caramel, and oak. It’s sips surprisingly easy for the 47% ABV, and isn’t easily overwhelmed even in complex, ingredient-heavy cocktails. The mashbill is 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley, and it's aged for a minimum of 4 years in American white oak.

Buy: $63