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Issue 5 - The go between

Whisky Magazine Issue 5
August 1999


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The go between

Angela Muir MW goes in search of those most elusive of creatures, whisky brokers, and finds them constantly slipping fron her grasp

What an elusive breed whisky brokers are. Nobody ever quite admits to being one: ‘Oh, no, I'm not really a broker,' goes the refrain. ‘Brokers are a dying breed.'

‘You want to find out about them?' went another conversation. ‘Come and see me and we'll taste one or two samples.' My host selects, bottles and sells single cask Scotch whisky for a living, loves what he does and has a turn of phrase that would do Oz Clarke proud when it comes to describing his wares.

His offfice was littered, not just with paper, but also with those little sample bottles covered on one side with Her Majesty's Customs & Excise's official stickers allowing a commercial sample out of its premises, and on the other with a heiroglyphic code identifying the cask it came from. But he was not, of course, a broker. Not really.

The second sample we tasted was one of the most extraordinary spirits I have ever come across. It was Longmorn 30-Year-Old: the nose was like walking into the herb and spice store of a vermouth factory, a really good old-fashioned grocer and a top-class cooper all at the same time. Lifted clean by the alcohol came dried citrus peel, star anise, wormwood/ liquorice, autumn smoke, roasted hazelnuts and much, much more. As for length and complexity on the palate, it was a textbook example of both elusive qualities, even for a jaded wine taster like me.

How are little gems like this discovered? Just who has the job of cruising gently round the Highlands and Islands,

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