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Issue 39 - Not altogether plain sailing

Whisky Magazine Issue 39
May 2004


This article is 12 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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Not altogether plain sailing

The Classic Malts Cruise is an annual event held by Diageo, formerly Guinness-UDV. For one person on it, it was a case of sailing with the enemy. But for Gillian Bell, the adventure was to change her perspective entirely

Given personal history and perceptions, I should have avoided the Classic Malts Cruise like the plague. A two week booze cruise with the heid yens of UDV, formally Guinness, and now Diageo.

It was 18 years ago that Ernest Saunders' Guinness sent in the heavies to kneecap my father, Arthur Bell. He was marketing a fine whisky with his own signature on the label.

But as Lord Clyde pronounced, “A man has an inalienable right to trade under his own name,” a triumph for small business, David and Goliath repeated. And Arthur lived to trade another day.

Unfortunately the kneecapping came later from a very different source, but that's not my story to tell.

So why then should the daughter of a ‘whisky rebel', who's a professional in marketing, take a job cooking on a corporate yacht charter? Having a somewhat cynical view of the corporate culture, I'd never heard of the Classic Malts Cruise, never cooked on a boat, done only a little sailing, and only talked with my new employer on the phone.

But fate has a mysterious way of weaving her web, and this web stretches around the world and has changed my own opinions.

I fell out with Scotland a couple of years back, for a number of personal, family and business reasons. So I packed my bags and fled its shores with a view to finding a new home somewhere in the world.

Throughout Canada, the States and even Samoa (resting place of Robert Louis Stevenson), I met a number of disillusioned expats and enjoyed (on occasion) the odd dr...

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