New Keeper’s Heart Whiskey bids a fond ‘fuck you’ to master distiller Brian Nation
In observance of St Patrick’s Day, Minneapolis-based whiskey distillery Keeper’s Heart has launched a new ad campaign – created by TDA Boulder – celebrating its Irish heritage and airing the thoughts of some of the (very angry) residents of Cork, Ireland.
Master whiskey distiller Brian Nation recently left his hometown of Cork, Ireland for a position at a relatively unknown distillery, called Keeper’s Heart, in Minneapolis – not exactly the first place that comes to mind when the average drinker thinks of whiskey.
For its first-ever ad campaign, Keeper’s Heart returned to Cork to film some heartfelt goodbyes to Brian from some of his former neighbors. What they got instead were some very heartfelt ‘fuck yous’ and ‘good riddances.’ Clearly, the community of Cork is not thrilled to have lost its beloved master distiller. The new ad arrives just in time for St Patrick’s Day, the only major holiday recognized across the US that specifically celebrates another country.
Before leaving for Minneapolis, Nation was the master distiller for Irish Distillers, an industry heavyweight and the manufacturer of Jameson, among other big-name whiskey brands. In other words, Nation arguably occupied one of the most highly coveted jobs in the entire whiskey industry. In a 2021 interview with InsideHook, Nation said that if “someone said two years ago I’d leave Irish Distillers and end up in Minneapolis, I’d say they were mad. But that was before I met [distillery co-founder] Patrick O’Shaughnessy. He basically cold-called me ... and I heard his passion and drive to develop something different. We struck up a relationship quickly.”
That “something different” was Maker’s Heart Whiskey, which the company describes as “a new style of whiskey blending the best of Irish [and] American traditions.” Its flagship product launched in the summer of 2021.
The campaign was made in collaboration with TDA Boulder. “Jameson has only had three Master Distillers over the last century and Brian Nation was the third,” says Jonathan Schoenberg, executive creative director and partner at TDA Boulder. “Brian leaving Ireland for America was like Tom Brady leaving New England for Tampa Bay. It was a big deal and while his fans, friends and family will always love him, they are pissed. Brian was a great sport, allowing all these people to tell him to fuck off.”
The new ad, in addition to being a tongue-in-cheek send-off to Nation, is also a love letter to Ireland (Keeper’s Heart’s founders, cousins Michael and Patrick O’Shaughnessy, have Irish roots). The footage features laypeople going about their everyday business – mowing the lawn, fishing, blacksmithing, riding a bike. No one has anything nice to say about Nation; the ad is riddled with expletives, though they’re only mouthed – the producers use natural sounds to mute them out. And though the actors appear firm in their hatred for Nation, there’s clearly an undercurrent of humor. They’re joking – we think...