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Issue 118 - Stimulating investigations

Whisky Magazine Issue 118
March 2014

 

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Stimulating investigations

We delve into another whisky laden tome

For the next few issues I thought it might be stimulating to investigate the relationship between whisky and the figure of the sleuth. Where could one possibly start other than with literature's most famous sleuth, Sherlock Holmes? Arthur Conan Doyle's detective may be best known for his pipe and his cocaine addiction, but he also enjoys snuff, cigars and whisky-and-soda as well while solving mysteries.

I dug out an old copy of the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and it took no time at all to immerse myself in the late Victorian world of stories like The Adventure of the Red-Haired League. It begins with Watson coming to 221B Baker Street to find Holmes talking with Jabez Wilson, who looks unremarkable except for his flaming red hair.

To Holmes, of course, it's a different story, as he himself tells us:

“Beyond the obvious facts that the has at some time done manual labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of writing lately, I can deduce nothing.”

Almost all the tales begin with the sleuth snidely demonstrating his amazing powers of observation. It's Doyle's version of ‘Just one more question' from Columbo, both charming and reassuring.

Wilson, a pawn shop owner, tells of how, with the help of his assistant, he got a well-paid job from a charitable 'league' founded for the benefit of red-headed London males.

All he had to do was go an office for a few hours every afternoon and c...

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