Whisky Magazine Issue 133
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How one man's ‘vision' has been saved for the nation
Once upon a time there was a little boy in Lugo, Italy who had the misfortune of stepping on a landmine during World War II. Valentino Zagatti miraculously survived but lost sight in both eyes. At the tender age of 11 he was fully blind. Fortunately he did not lose his zest for life and would become one of Italy's more famous accordion players, a beloved and respected music teacher, winning many prizes at various music festivals.
Valentino Zagatti was also a smoker. ‘Was' is the operative word. Early in 1960 he kicked this unhealthy habit, thus saving himself money. Money that he was planning to invest in a collection of distillates destined to be the largest in the world. On 19 January 1960 he bought his first bottle, a stock brandy. He continued to acquire grappa, brandy, cognac and whisky by the score. At the turn of the 1960s he realised it would be impossible to continue purchasing every kind of liquor he could lay his hands on and therefore decided to concentrate on single malt whisky. Over time that collection would grow into more than 3,000 bottles. To show the world his collection, Mr Zagatti published The Best Collection of Malt Whisky in 1999. He had broadened his horizon with collecting other types of whiskey, and in 2004 the sequel The Best Collection of Malt – Part Two – Whiskies and Whiskeys followed. Both huge coffee table style books became collector's items in themselves.
A remarkable story, even more remarkable when we realise that Mr Zagatti has ...