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Issue 45 - Never turn your back on a friend

Whisky Magazine Issue 45
January 2005


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Never turn your back on a friend

Is the globalisation of drinks causing a rejection of regionalised products?

At least George Dubouef had managed to do what Napoleon so famously failed to do – get through to St Petersburg. A Beaujolais Nouveau party? In Russia? Are you mad? I might be. It was hard to tell. I was on my second bottle by then and had already come to realise that in this magnificent city you should expect the unexpected.

It meant that all the questions about vodka which would come on my return would remain unanswered. All I'd be able to say to them was that I spent two days talking to Russians about whisky... and drinking Beaujolais. They'd consider me a less than perfect traveller which in some ways is true, though in others the interest in whisky (and barely fermented grape juice) is actually getting some
understanding of what is happening, drink wise, in affluent, hip, Russian society – and vodka isn't part of it.

A week before I was with Martine Nouet in la Reunion to look at rum production. Here, despite a history of rum making, the young premium-oriented drinker prefers Scotch, the bizarre outcome of which was the sight of the pair of us at a whisky dinner trying to persuade people from a rum-making island that ‘their' drink was excellent.

Both are examples of a rejection of a local spirit in preference to an imported one. The same is happening in the Caribbean where to show that they have made it, the new affluent middle-class drinks bourbon or Scotch rather than rum, a strange post-colonial irony. Meanwhile, in Scotland (and the rest of Britain) whisky i...

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