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Issue 49 - A shot in the foot

Whisky Magazine Issue 49
July 2005


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A shot in the foot

But make sure it's genuine, warns Michael Jackson

When politicians say things so breathtakingly naïve and stupid as to suggest they are completely out of touch with the people they are supposed to represent, it is possible to sympathise. The loftiness of their job has itself caused their isolation.

When I was 12 or 13, a fellow called Pierre Mendés- France found himself prime minister of the eponymous republic. He took it into his head to instruct his countrymen to drink less wine and more milk – and learned just how insecure a French prime minister can be.

In the Republic of Ireland, the minister of justice may soon be receiving a poetic dose of his own dispensations.

The minister, Michael McDowell, has just told his countrymen to drink less alcohol. He envisages Ireland's pubs being replaced by cafés, in which the black stuff would be espresso and the ball of malt become biscotti.

He believes this would help curb binge drinking. The proposal has met with disbelief in a country whose most famous exports are stout, whiskey and pubs.

Not only Ireland but also the rest of the world would be impoverished if social surgery were to hobble this troika.

In its own country, stout has lost ground to bland lagers. Recently drinks writer Andrew Jefford and I questioned whether the term ‘lager' was an honest description for the most popular claimants to the term. As they are lagered for days, rather than weeks or months, I would say not. Binge drinkers drink fake lager.

Both stout and Irish whiskey are increasingly appreci...

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