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Issue 10 - Emporio whisky

Whisky Magazine Issue 10
June 2000

 

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Emporio whisky

Whisky collecting is alive and well in Italy Angelo Matteucci's travels have brought him into contact with some of the great characters in the business.

When Valentino Zagatti opened the door of his house in Lugo di Romagna, a broad smile on his face, it was a great moment for me. After years of writing letters I was at last meeting the man who is known as someone very special among the Italian
whisky fraternity.

Valentino, a collector for many years, is blind, but the sensitivity of his touch is such that he recognises bottles just by handling them. He was just a boy, 11 years old, when he lost his sight in 1945 after stepping on a mine left over from
the war.

His interest in whisky began by chance in 1960; the result of giving up smoking. After he packed in the cigarettes, Valentino found himself with some spare cash and started buying bottles of single malt.

The hobby developed and soon Valentino found himself part of an international community of friends and enthusiasts. Even those who do
not collect themselves are happy to track down specific bottles he is looking for. He now owns 4,000 bottles; 2,400 of which are individual whiskies.

The man has a remarkable memory and is a treasure trove of facts most other people have long forgotten. “What is the most precious bottle you own,” I asked him as we surveyed his collection. There was a long silence which I expected. After all we Italians are known for our sense of style and never choose lightly.

“There are three,” Valentino finally said. “A poitin, a Glenlivet and a Springbank. The poitin is very old and has a hand written label – it is the bottle I...

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