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Issue 20 - Near the Finnish line?

Whisky Magazine Issue 20
December 2001


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Near the Finnish line?

Michael Jackson enthuses, but finds it hard to finish

Is there no end to finishes? I keep asking myself. I had a Finnish finish back in the spring. This happened in a pub in a country town called Lahti, 60 or 70 miles north of Helsinki. I know this sounds unlikely, but believe me. Some rock groups are really famous in small countries far from home. I am big in Finland. Well, big enough to be a Holder of the Haarikka. This is a bucket-sized juniper vessel bearing a dangerous resemblance to a quaich. I used to wonder why the Finns kept giving me presents, then a friend explained: “Your books are like pornography. They are about forbidden pleasures. We read them and marvel to each other: ‘Ooh!! Look what the dirty b*gg*r says about Glenfarclas 101!'” In those days, alcohol was not so much prohibited as taxed out of reach, as a means of limiting consumption. This strategy was, to varying degrees, employed in several Nordic countries. It meant the working folk could scarcely afford a drink, while the super-rich carried on as normal. Perhaps the working man retained his purity and the rich man destroyed himself, in the view of the Lutherans whose lobby led to such policies. Did the Left-leaning Governments see it that way? Were they protecting the working man from himself instead of fighting for his right to unwatered whisky?

Things have changed since Finland joined the European Union. This was evident in Lahti, where I met a publican called Anssi Pyysing (I am not making this up, as my colleague Dave Barrie frequently observes...

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