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Issue 40 - AnythingbutaGreektragedy

Whisky Magazine Issue 40
June 2004

 

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AnythingbutaGreektragedy

Greecehasoneofthebiggestmarketsforwhiskyintheworld.TomBruce-Gardynereports

Ifevertherewasadrinkdesignedforchasingawaythewinterbluesitwouldbewhisky.

WhentheIrishmonksfirstintroducedtheirmagicpotiontotheScots,itwasseizeduponasamedicinalspirittosoothesorethroatsandrubonachingjoints.

EvennowthethoughtofaScottishwinterwithoutScotchsendsashiverdownthespine,andwhendrunkasahottoddy,spikedwithaspirin,lemonjuiceandhoney,itisstillthebestcureforflueverinvented.Itcertainlyknocksspotsofanythingyoucanbuyoverthecounteratthechemist.

StrangethenthatthecountrieswhereScotchwhiskyhasreallybeenthrivinginEuropearealldowninthesouthbaskingbesidetheMediterranean.TheGreeks,forexample,hardlyneedadrugtoanaesthetisetheeffectsofacold,dampclimate.YettheyhavemadeScotchtheirnumberonespiritaheadoftheirhome-grown,aniseed-basedOuzo.

“Perhapsthisdispelsthemyththatwhiskydrinkinghasanythingtodowiththeweather,”saysMikeSalmon,InternationalsalesdirectoratCuttySark,“thoughsalesdofalloffinthesummer.”

Yetdespitethisseasonaldown-turn,ittakesarealheatwaveforpeopletocompletelystopdrinkingspiritsinGreece.Afterallmuchofwhatisconsumedinthesummermonthsisaftermidnightinthebarsbesidethesea.

Apparentlythebar-ownersindowntownAthenssimplyshutupshopinJuneandreopenwiththesamestaffdownonthecoast.Clearlyotherfactorsareatwork.FirstlyScotchwhiskyisarelativelynewvicetomostGreeks.

Formanyyearsitwasexpensiveandhardtoobtain.ThenwhenthecountryjoinedtheEuropeanUnionintheearly‘80sandimportrestrictionswerelifted,salesofScotchsoaredonawaveofpent-updemand.

Nowavailableeverywhere,thedrinkmaynotbeasaspirat...

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