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Issue 42 - The Pundit and the Popper

Whisky Magazine Issue 42
September 2004


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The Pundit and the Popper

Michael Jackson brainstorming on behalf of Scotch Whisky.

The American business magazine Fortune calls for a chat on the future of Scotch whisky. Among the reporter's questions, a particularly pertinent one: some consumers have spurned the big blended brands as lacking in individuality, in favour of single malts. There had emerged a handful of dominant brands in malts; would they overpower their smaller competitors?

I thought the opposite might happen. Seeming to become commonplace, the leading malts might eventually experience resistance, creating an opportunity for the smaller ones. First to spring to mind was Bruichladdich, followed by some of Diageo's Hidden Malts.

After a long chat, the journalist thanked me and promised to plug the new edition of my Malt Whisky Companion. The story in Fortune ran to six pages, dominated by a picture essay on Bruichladdich. No mention, though, of M. Jackson and his book.

I immediately forgave the journalist. I was sure he had fulfilled his promise in his text the story had been cut. No such cuts when The Scotsman newspaper called me about Welsh whisky. At the time, I had not received a sample.

“Well, what do think of the idea?” asked the reporter.

“Whisky is Scottish, isn't it?” I joked. The jest looked a little harder in print. A few days later, Radio 4's The Today Programme called asking me for my observations on the spirit of the red dragon. “We saw your comments in The Scotsman,” said the researcher, gleefully. “Since then, I've tasted it, and think it is rather good,” ...

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