Whisky Magazine Issue 4
This article is 13 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.
Copyright Whisky Magazine © 1999-2013. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.
Jim Murray, spurred by a reader's letter, considers alleged conflicts of interest
Many years have passed since I first discovered that embracing the whisky cause could be (believe it or not) a painful (both physically and emotionally) and thankless duty. People find it very hard to understand that there can be a sense of fulfilment more important than money in leading converts to a dram.
I discovered this in the early 1980s. Each year I would make pilgrimage to Islay off the west coast of Scotland. And while there I would do a deal with the manager at the Co-op at Port Ellen for me to bring back a case, or two if they had it, of pungent and quite incomparable Ardbeg.
This was the only shop in Britain I had ever found it for sale. And as I preferred Ardbeg to any other whisky I had ever tasted (and still do), I was determined to divide my catch with friends and colleagues at the newspaper where I worked at that time. After all, what's the enjoyment of having a secret if you can't share it with someone?
Unfortunately, one colleague could not believe I wasn't profiteering. This resulted in a right hook that sent me crashing from my chair and rendered me speechless for a full five minutes. My crime? I used to sell those bottles for £10 each; exactly the same as I paid for them. Nowadays identical bottles fetch £100-£125 apiece at Christie's whisky auctions, such is the price of martyrdom.
I recalled this when I received a letter from Ms Valincia Wagner, passed on to me by Whisky Magazine. ‘On page 8,' she said,' I noticed in Mr Murray's piece, “Se...