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Issue 5 - Obsession

Whisky Magazine Issue 5
August 1999


This article is 18 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.

Copyright Whisky Magazine © 1999-2018. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.


Whisky is for sniffing, drinking and dabbing your ears, Michael Jackson explains, Calvin Klein would understand.

We had discussed the oak in the casks, which dated from before World War One, and considered the infuence of their position in the warehouse. Now we were sampling the contents. My enthusiastic host, Australian winemaker Mick Morris of Rutherglen, Victoria, first offered me a Shiraz, then a fino-style fortified, followed by an amontillado-style, a vintage port-style and two or three Muscats. Finally, he fetched a mystery glass. The contents, almost black, clung stickily to the sides.

‘Know what it is?' demanded Morris. I was struggling. ‘A Pedro Ximénez?' I hazarded. ‘It's an Aulerot,' he announced, naming a grape of which I had never heard. ‘It's pre-phylloxera [phylloxera being the vine pest that destroyed most of Europe's vineyards at the turn of this century, and later spread to Australia], though I did top it up with some Muscat in about 1960. What do you think?' It had an earthy, oaky mustiness and acidity, with a surge of maple syrup.

‘Thought of topping it up again?' I inquired. He looked as though this were an unreasonable suggestion, given that he had tended the mini-solera so recently – less than 40 years ago. ‘What with?' ‘A bourbon cask full of Lagavulin,' I suggested.

‘You're obsessed,' grunted my roadie, a Samoan attorney.

They say the same thing when I visit Japan. A Japanese journalist once asked me how many malts I sample in a day. ‘Usually only a dozen or 20, but occasionally 50 or 60,' I explained. ‘And how do you clear your pal...

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