Whisky Magazine Issue 21
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Michael Jackson on his own whisky trail, re-orients himself
Harry's Bar? No, Horie's. Yes, really. I'll figure out in a minute why it's called Horie's. It was that time, after a long day and a few drinks, when the waking hours start downloading into the memory …
We arrived 10 minutes ago to a battery of smiles, and clinched our presence with handshakes. On the bar was a 15-litre cask that had until recently contained Beaujolais Nouveau. It now accommodated Ardbeg 10-year-old.
The resiny whisky was soothing body and soul. Things were momentarily quiet. A bar doesn't sound like a place to think, but can offer moments of reflection. My mind was still in Sweden. A blonde friend was offering me an overfilled glass of Chivas. She always does.
Now would be a good moment. I wondered what she was doing tonight.
“Mai. My name is Mai.” That sounded Swedish, too, but the apparition wasn't Scandinavian. Nor was she a character in my day-for-night dream. She was in Horie's bar, introducing herself. She had materialised as though from nowhere, silently.
Her face, neck, and such limited décolletage as was visible, were all ghostly white. The effect of the white make-up was heightened by bright red in the outer corners of her eyes, and the precise delineation of her lips. Her jet-black hair was swept back, high, into a rounded symmetrical shape, held with decorative combs and pins.
Her demure handshake confirmed she was flesh-and-blood. A geisha, of course. We were in Kyoto, a city famous for its geisha community. And for Horie Toshiyuki'...