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Issue 29 - Big in Japan

Whisky Magazine Issue 29
March 2003


This article is 15 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Big in Japan

Whisky Live Japan goes from strength to strength and is getting weirder as it does so. Marcin Miller mixes it with Tokyo's finest

A good cocktail is all in the shaking, as one Tokyo bar owner took great delight in explaining to me during my recent visit to Japan.

Exactly the same ingredients, shaken in the same quantities but in different ways, can either come together in a delightful marriage, greater than the sum of its parts, or fail miserably as each element fights for control.

Put together nearly 20 distillery managers, whisky writers, brand ambassadors and private bottlers, add the haunting tones of Islay's most famous chanteuse, and the result is equally unpredictable. Fortunately the Whisky Magazine cocktail shaker was in fine form on the day.

As soon as panellers were led out into the Opening Seminar to the strains of Stayin'Alive, participants knew they were in for something a little different this year.

The impending retirement (what, again?) of the ever-popular Iain Henderson provided a wonderful opportunity for the assembled gentlemen to honour, praise, or in Jim McEwan's case, outright abuse him, and was that really Bowmore's Christine Logan, complete in full geisha outfit, carrying out a giant Laphroaig warehouse birthday cake?

This year was bigger than last, with over 1,000 participants on the day choosing from a series of 16 Masterclasses, but, more important than the basic statistics was the quality and unique nature of some of these sessions.

In an attempt to satisfy what is perhaps the most demanding whisky audience anywhere in the world, this year's programme included a joint ...

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