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Issue 16 - Getting religion

Whisky Magazine Issue 16
June 2001


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Getting religion

Michael Jackson has a glass of Glenn Hoddle with John Diamond

Did I ever tell you about the young guy who introduced me to whisky? I was 18 and working as a journalist on a newspaper in Edinburgh. One day, I was in the office pub with my best buddy, a Scot, when he began spoiling for a fight with me. Scots sometimes do this after a drink or ten. The punch-up is a form of bonding: “What kind of buddy are you if you won't have a fight with me?” I pointed out that I matched him beer-for-beer. “But you never have a nip with your beer,” he mocked. When I recall my reply, I stun even myself. “I don't like whisky.” Did I really say that? “You have never had a single malt,” he said. He then bought me a nip of Glen Grant 12. One sip led me down a road that would change my life – the road to Damascus (well, Dalwhinnie). Whisky led my buddy down another road. We lost touch. Forty years later, I was presenting a public tasting in a small town in Asia when in he walked. He listened with interest but declined all offers of a taste. He had become an alcoholic, lost his job and family, and wound up on the streets. He found shelter in a Salvation Army hostel, fell in love with one of his carers and married her. They now run their own Christian bookshop.

The Man Who Introduced Me To Whisky came to mind when I read a column by John Diamond in the Saturday magazine of The Times. In the last three or four years, most of Diamond's pieces were about his encounter with cancer. His column would cheer me with its candour, clarity and h...

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