No celebrity partnership with a brand has ever made more sense than Nick Offerman's with Lagavulin. His personal love for the Islay scotch brand is perhaps only outdone by Offerman's "Parks and Recreation" character Ron Swanson's, a happy coincidence that brought Ron Swanson to the Lagavulin distillery and Nick Offerman to be the face of Lagavulin.
Since 2014, Offerman has worked with the scotch brand on a video series, dubbed Lagavulin: Tales of Whisky, that once gave us a 10-hour Youtube video of him sipping scotch in front of a Yule log, and last year, the two released an 11-year-old Offerman-edition scotch. While 2020 won't see the release of a new bottle of Lagavulin emblazoned with Offerman's stony visage (his words), we will be getting more Offerman-led videos.
In the latest installment of the series, Offerman pokes fun at the lip sync videos across various social media platforms, opting for a glass Lagavulin over TikTok-style dancing (that is until the last few seconds of the clip).
We caught up with Offerman as he road tripped across the Southwest, Great Plains and midwest (in a shiny new Airstream) to chat driving an hour for a six-pack of beer, the pains he'll go through for comedy and, of course, Lagavulin scotch whisky.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Not a question, but first, thank you for this opportunity, and I hope you, Megan [Mullally] and your friends and family are doing well and staying safe, and mildly sane, during the most trying times, aka the holiday season (and the pandemic).
My extreme pleasure! We are keeping safe and just as marginally sane as we were before this madness began. I hope that you and yours are also still on your feet and enjoying the holidays.
Q. Where were you road tripping? Is your final destination where you plan to spend the holidays?
Once we clocked the severity of the pandemic back in April or so, we went shopping for an Airstream because: we wanted one; they’re just nifty as hell; and we thought we could travel around in it so that we might visit our folks in Oklahoma, for Megan, and Illinois, for the Offermans. So we are taking a circuitous sojourn to reach our loved ones, mainly enjoying the sights of the southwest.
For Thanksgiving we joined my parents and my siblings and our five nieces, and spaced ourselves at a respectable distance of several yards from one another along a more idyllic stretch of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, where we stood in a painfully brisk wind and counted several ruby red Cardinals, the state bird of Illinois. We will spend Christmas times in Los Angeles, so that Santa can find us without trouble.
Q. What are you hoping to receive as a gift for the holidays?
I’m about the luckiest donkey that I have ever come across, so I haven’t longed for any sort of gift for many years now. My astonishing bride Megan has taken up cooking over the last year, so I guess I’ll hope for another invitation to her table.
Q. How did the idea for the new "Lagavulin: My Tales of Whisky" video come to be?
The easy answer to that question is that Lagavulin My Tales of Whisky was entirely my brilliant idea. Easy, yes, but an answer that’s also entirely false. I guess if the brains behind these comedy nuggets wanted credit, they should have been the one talking to Gear Patrol, right?
But, I guess since they’re not here with us in this email correspondence, I’ll just tell you that two executive producers from Parks & Recreation, named Morgan Sackett and Dean Holland, and a writer named David Phillips are the think tank behind these delightfully stupid videos. I am merely their thistle-chested Hasselhoff, gamboling across the beach of their puckish imaginations, safeguarding the untested swimmers in the single malt scotch market lest they drown in some lesser swill.
Q. Your relationship to Lagavulin runs deep from a personal standpoint to its connection to "Parks and Recreation." Besides these, what is it about the smoky beauty of Lagavulin that triumphs over other Islay scotches or Speyside scotches?
Look, I grew up in the cornfields of Illinois in the '80s, when a lad had to drive an hour to a specialty liquor store just to purchase a six-pack of beer, like that was the most exotic of beverages. By which I mean to say how lucky are we in this day and age to have such a vast preponderance of artisanal meats and spirits available to sate our spoiled senses of indulgence?
There are many admirable whisky varieties in the world, especially in Scotland, but the particular flavor patina of Lagavulin just struck me profoundly the first time I had it over 20 years ago. It’s indescribably rich and bewitching, like drinking a campfire, and I will be forever grateful that I met that glorious juice.
Q. Will you tell me a personal tale of whisky that you've experienced lately?
Here is a tale of the stamina and fiber of the cut of the average Scotsman's jib. We were on the island of Islay shooting Lagavulin spots last year, and we had hired this intensely rugged, six-wheel all-terrain vehicle to haul four of us and our equipment about an hour into the wilderness to a large, picturesque cave, which would serve as a gorgeous backdrop to some of our clumsy comedy. Our trusty set medic, a redoubtable lad from Aberdeen named Kevin, was a bit put off, since there was no room for him in the mini-truck. As the crew member responsible for our health and well-being, he was just beside himself that he wouldn’t be able to monitor our daunting trek and subsequent shoot, but it couldn’t be helped.
We set off in the hired wagon, wherein we all began to feel seasick almost immediately thanks to the nightmarish terrain, which was just this side of impassable. When we could manage to form a sentence or two, we laughed at the lengths to which we were willing to go for a dumb comedy video. Holding on for dear life, he bucked up hill and over dale, and were just about done for by the time we even arrived at the cave.
As the vehicle approached the objective, a collective cheer went up from we clowns as we saw Kevin come bounding over the mountain top! While we had our flabby behinds hauled in by a bemused farmer in his machine, Kevin had run through the thistle and gorse straight up one side of the hill and down the other, like some sort of triathlete (which he is, it turns out). We celebrated Kevin loudly and clapped our arms around him and thanked him for giving us cause to raise a glass of the good stuff in his honor. And after we got the shots we needed, it began to rain powerfully, but he was undaunted. He raced us back over the hill, and won! As they say in those parts: "Top Man!"
Q. When's the next Nick Offerman-edition Lagavulin coming out?
A-ha. Wouldn’t we all like to know when we can next lay hands on that august bottle of smoky elixir, sealed with my own stony visage? When, indeed. No one can know when the new Offerman batch will arrive, unless you count the distillers and the cask masters. And the entire production team. And the bankers probably know. Because of how they need to get paid. But other than them, nobody can discern the calendar dates. You might as well ask me when the water in the Irish Sea will arrive — I mean the future is enshrouded in murky clouds of, you know, I’m not sure, OK? I think that information is above my pay grade. Next year?