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Issue 15 - Blackadder goes forth

Whisky Magazine Issue 15
April 2001


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Blackadder goes forth

Tom Bruce-Gardyne talks to Robin Tcek, proprietor of the independent bottler blackadder, and finds out why he dislikes filtering, industry attitudes and armchairs

Being asked to blind taste a whisky and identify it in front of an audience can be a little unnerving. To do so on TV as the last item on the six o'clock news sounds positively terrifying. When the evening's presenter turned to his guest with the dreaded words “and finally”, handing him a miniature bottle of malt, John Lamond must have wished he was anywhere but live in the studio of Grampian TV in Aberdeen. “They were running late and I could see this guy out of the corner of my eye holding up ten fingers, then nine, then eight ...”, he recalls. It was not a moment for stage fright and just before the credits rolled Lamond managed to blurt out the correct answer – Royal Lochnagar.

The reason for this attempted piece of air-time humiliation was that John Lamond had recently won the title of ‘Master of Malt' in a national whisky tasting competition devised by Robin Tucek. It was the mid-1980s and the pair of them had just begun a ten-year collaboration starting with The Malt Whisky File – a book that has now sold over 100,000 copies. The latest edition has just been published by Canongate Books. In 1988 they set up a mail-order company with a small shop in Tunbridge Wells, also called Master of Malt, until Tucek resigned in the mid-1990s citing “differences of opinion”.

While his old business evolved into the Malt Whisky Association, Robin was thinking of how he could continue to indulge his passion for Scotch and earn a living at the same time. The result ...

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