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Issue 42 - As easy as Alpha, Beta…

Whisky Magazine Issue 42
September 2004


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.

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As easy as Alpha, Beta…

Dave Broom launches the resistance against the whisky terroiristes

Apparently supermarket lighting is engineered to make us blink less frequently, inducing a trancelike state which makes us more amenable to suggestions. I suspect a similar thing goes on in airports.

Being in transit makes you do one of three things: sit in silence in the bar, fall asleep or start shopping. I tend to do the last. That's how, when I was wandering aimlessly through Birmingham airport recently, I picked up a black and pink leaflet which proclaimed ‘Alpha Whisky Bravo.

Discover Whisky.' Alpha is the duty free franchise operator at this and other United Kingdom airports. I began reading it. This is how it started: “Whisky. You either like it or you don't.” Well, bang goes any chance of attracting the mildly curious.

It didn't get much better, being cluttered with inaccuracies: Canadian bourbon; monks whose official duty it was to distil the barley; whisky being made from water, barley and peat; single malt “uses only one malted barley”; apparently in a blend: “the higher the blend percentage the higher the concentration of grain whiskies in the blend”. If you can work that last one out, please do let me know.

Malts are broken down by region. Lowland malts are “clean and simple”, Speysides are either “elegant and spicy”, or “rich and fruity”, while those from somewhere called Islay are “demanding [of] an acquired palate”.

It was the description of the Highland region which brought home how outmoded this way of talking about malt h...

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