Whisky Magazine Issue 14
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Charles Maclean talks to 'The Perfect Collector', Norman Shelley
CM When did you become involved with whisky?
NS Although I was educated in England, I have lived abroad all my life. My father worked for Shell Petroleum and during my first 21 years on this planet we lived in 18 countries. My mother is part Italian, part Swiss. The only constant connection with ‘home' was Scotch, my father was an avid devotee, so I began to enjoy it as soon as I began to drink alcohol. He ultimately settled in Cyprus and it was here that I began my drinks importing business in 1975, when I was 22. My pleasure became my business from that date.
CM And Macallan?
NS By 1984 I had moved my business to Istanbul and was distributing wines and spirits in Turkey. In the early days I held the agencies for Teachers, then Haig, Bells, VAT 69 and J&B. My first introduction to malt whisky was visiting a distillery, I think it was Aberlour, although my first malt whisky agency was for The Glenlivet which I held 1984-94. I first tasted Macallan about 1990 and never looked back: I was smitten and it immediately became my favourite. Around the same time, I was appointed to sell Highland Distilleries portfolio in Turkey and the old Soviet Union. You can imagine my pleasure when they took over The Macallan in 1996 and this joined my portfolio.
CM What gave you the idea of buying a collection?
NS On a trip to the distillery a couple of years ago, I tasted a 50-year-old. I so enjoyed it, I asked if I could buy some bottles to share with friends. Once we had dr...