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Issue 50 - At heaven's gate

Whisky Magazine Issue 50
September 2005


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At heaven's gate

Michael Jackson on the importance of standing your round

Afirst impression, or a sole encounter, can linger indelibly. The only time I met Ted Heath (the recently departed former British prime minister) was at a conference on marketing. There was an informal gathering of speakers and press. Heath's handlers had managed to procure him some whisky, but there was none for the press.

I don't suppose it was his fault, but having a drink in front of thirsty journalists was like eating a freshly-killed lamb in front of a pack of salivating wolves. For a career politician, it is not smart to annoy the press. I would have thought that was pretty basic.

There was a little forced banter, but the awkwardness of the moment is my dominant memory of a leader now being credited with great statesmanship. That Mr Heath had to pull the old trick of dying in order to be appreciated simply goes to show the importance of being generous with one's whisky.

It is easier to demonstrate such generosity if you know your next dram may be in the saloon bar at heaven's gate.

A friend of mine, who worked in the drinks industry in Portland, Oregon, was always generous with his whisky, but especially after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He was an American of Irish origin, and decided to have a living wake, two or three weeks before his death was scheduled. He didn't want to miss the party, even though he wasn't feeling very well.

At the wake, everyone told him how much his wisdom, imagination, creativity and energy had contributed to the greater goo...

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