We spoke to Johnny the brain child behind the infamous @WhiskyandDonuts account on Instagram. Who the hell thought that putting whisky and donuts together was a good idea? I do not know, but it seems this guy is onto something.
Johnny let’s try something different. Tell us some fun facts about yourself to kick things off.
J: Hi my name is Johnny. I thrive on outlandish ideas. I am rarely serious and love reading tech reviews on things I will never possess. I have been known to have the worst taste in rainy day Netflix movie picks but make up for it by MacGyver-ing a delicious meal with odd ingredients from a depleted kitchen. My parents met at a Chinese disco bar… One is Filipino, the other is Scottish…. makes sense to me. I miss baggy 90’s style British football uniforms and often make a bass face when I’m in the groove and feelin’ it.
You run very cool photography, whiskey and donuts account on Instagram. How did you develop a love for whisky and all things donuts, and why did you decide to share that love and passion with people on Instagram?
J: For me, whisky has always been about its natural origins. Simple craft bonded by chemistry and a touch of experimentation using local techniques and resources to make something sacred… that will always be considered art to me… and… it makes me feel funny when I drink it. Living in California, we have always been spoiled by the availability of donuts in mass variety… so why not use a “local resource” to create something from nothing. What once was a new years resolution and a bit of a joke has turned into a platform of many avenues. Photography, branding & design has been my cheddar maker for a while now, and the Instagram platform seemed like a perfect opportunity to practice and explore my own craft for future endeavors.
Is there anyone else involved in the Whisky and Donuts company?
J: I have a small outfit of taste testers that seems to be ever growing the more I shoot… My wife, Mrs. W&D as they call her, prefers the sweets so I leave the rationing of baked goods to her demise. And honestly, it is all about the whisky… it’s ALL ABOUT THE WHISKY. Right now, I am solely responsible for all forms of output for W&D, but I am open to collaborating with like-minded visionaries. Whether a simple review becomes a rant or a single pairing becomes a blockbuster movie lighting & special effect setup, it is all for the personal satisfaction of creation.
Whisky and Donuts seem like such an unlikely combination, how did you know it was going to work? What about the two flavor profiles that worked so well for you?
J: I had no idea if it would work or not… and frankly didn’t care. At first, it was playful symbolism of social class divide through food photography. Food and alcohol pairing is nothing new, but traditionally, foods paired with libations, like chocolate and cheese, hold a certain standard within the ‘finer things club’ of today’s culture. So the idea of matching the upper echelon rare and expensive to the everyday man cheap and accessible seemed to be a beautiful paradox.
Thankfully, the two often go together very well as the basic dough of every donut paired tends to draw out familiar notes of grain and malt from the whisky. Donut toppings act as subtle nuisances much like distillery region characteristics and the effect of different woods for aging. Either way, booze, and dessert is a tasty thing!
When I’ve asked other photographer heavy Instagram account influencers how they go about putting the idea, design and the actual photo composition together they mention it just a spontaneous moment, nothing planned. So let’s get real. How long does it take you to put one shot together that is ready for posting on Instagram? If it’s not perfect does it not get the light of day?
J: In my profession, time is money. And although I view W&D time as leisure and meditation, the daily work habit carries through into this pairing process. 2-3 hrs max for setup, shoot, and breakdown. Most of the time spent is within the writing after photography. I have always enjoyed writing. Whether I’m good at it is another subject…
Obviously, a certain amount of thought process and planning has to go into a pairing. Most people who see the posted images don’t consider that, unlike whisky in a glass, donuts have a relatively short lifespan. The more crafted donuts with alternative ingredients tend to look ‘sad’ only hours after creation. We have tricks within the product and food photo industry but sometimes an old donut is just an old donut, and there’s only so much lipstick you can put on the pig!
I try not to be too strict with the outcome and process. Perfection is a curse, but maintaining a brand and standard is always looming in the background.
For us amateur photo takers out there, can you share some tips of the trade so we can take better photos, more attractive photos for the gram?
J: Hmmm… Well first and foremost, no matter what photo apparatus is in your hand… lighting is everything, period. From a non-technical perspective… inspired people create inspiring work. As you can see by the time gaps in the W&D analytics, I only post when I am inspired. In this fun and absurd time of ‘influencers’ within social media lifestyles, this mentality is taboo to become bigger and better but makes me insanely happy…
Let’s get a bit personal. Favorite region of Scotland and favorite whisky?
J: Speyside for the drink, north highlands for outdoor solitude.
No particular favs, but often relish the tastes and smells of Glencadam, Benromach, Glendronach, and Tomintoul!
Neat or on the rocks?
J: Neat freak.
Peat Or Sweet?
J: All of it. I am a human garbage disposal.
Everyday Go To Whisky:
J: Too many to chose. It changes on a weekly.
J: All whisky is for celebrating, right? I would hate to consume such tasty bevy for any other reason…
Best Donut & Whisky Pairing Ever?
J: Vegan Blueberry Glazed (The Donuttery | Huntington Beach, CA) and discontinued Tomintoul 12 Portwood Finish
If You Could Be Any Dinosaur Which One Would You Be?
J: Dramosaurus mates with a Gunnarsaurus = Drunkgoonasurus. It was traditionally a donutavore… it was real… I looked it up.
Warm Weather And The Beach Or Cold Weather And Skiing?
J: “I’ll either surf or ski!” – Frank Cushman (Jerry Maguire 1996)
Now that you’ve passed the 10K milestone on Instagram, what’s next for your account. Where do you hope to grow it 5 years from now?
J: Instagram is an amazing tool to share imagery, and I will always be grateful to all who feel my contributions are worth following. The community surrounding whisky culture continues to be gracious and I will always be thankful for that. But who knows where the path of this pairing movement and brand will lead to? The unknown is so exciting.
You must have had some fantastic whisky over your lifespan. Give us your top 5 list, saving the best for number 1.
J: With exception to a few, all whisky is delicious… I know it’s a lame anti-climatic and diplomatically neutral response, but, having had the blessed opportunity to sample whiskies from their source in far away land distilleries makes it truly difficult to choose the best…
Although, I suppose that hand filled bottle from Benromach is up near the top… the moment it hits my lips causes automatic nostalgia of our first trip to Scotland everytime… its when and where we fell in love.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
J: When life gets you down, don’t drink your sorrows away… just have a tickle wrestling match with a buddy until someone pees. For all other problems, visit whiskyanddonuts.com