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Issue 5 - An illusion of quality

Whisky Magazine Issue 5
August 1999


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An illusion of quality

Even Jim Murray can be fooled into thinking a whisky is better than it is

There is a lot to be said about drinking whisky in situ. Whisky is a romantic subject; and what can be more engaging than drinking the water of life at the very place where it is conceived?

But it is a practice fraught with danger. How many times have you come home and opened the wine, spirit or liqueur that had so bewitched you whilst on holiday? Yes, that same rare bottle that you painstakingly (and heavily) carried back in your hand luggage, only to wonder what had suddenly happened to your tastebuds, or (more probably) the drink.

I've heard many similar tales of whiskies which, though captivating when tasted at the distillery, had somehow transformed themselves into something grotesquely boring, even actively unpleasant, the moment they crossed your threshold.

So it is when I write tasting notes. Nineteen times out of 20 I will have tasted a whisky not only at the distillery but also at home. It takes away some of the magic, but it's necessary. Even so, there are times, like now as I write this, when the pulses race. I'm sitting in a tiny hotel room in what was once the pile of the Greenlees family who owned the Hazelburn distillery and created the Claymore blend.

I chose this room because, by moving the table and craning my neck a little to the left, I have a spectacular view of the entrance to Campbeltown Loch and the surrounding hills. The idea is that a little inspiration will be reflected off the dark waters and into the Campbeltown chapter of my book in progre...

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