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Issue 53 - Russians seek out a taste of luxury

Whisky Magazine Issue 53
January 2006


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Russians seek out a taste of luxury

A new elite in Russia is demanding the world's very best products, quality single malt among them. Marcin Miller reports

It's 1.20am on a Thursday in October. A party of four, we shake the snow off our boots and check in our coats at Prado, one of Moscow's most chic style bars.

I am astounded that we are considered fortunate to get a table, in the early hours, midweek. That's the way it is in the capital city of one of the fastest-growing whisky markets in the world.

Such is the opulence of the new Russia that each chandelier in Prado cost $20,000. The service is perfect and we are offered food before drinks. This is obviously a very expensive place. The sort of place you will find people who attend Moscow's Millionaires' Fair to look at the most expensive playthings; helicopters, cars, jewellery and whisky… The first-time visitor to Moscow will be struck by the contrasts, specifically those of old and new, rich and poor.

The architecture of the city is extraordinary.

Most European capitals are relatively small – it is more than feasible to walk around most of central Rome, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Paris and even London in a day – but Moscow is different. Because of the way the city developed, there is no single clear-cut centre, other than the iconic Red Square.

Then there is the scale of the place; massive Stalinist towers and 10-lane highways in the middle of the city.

In Moscow new neon-lit casinos sit next to Stalinist architecture next to 14th century cathedrals next to factories spewing out pollution. The overall effect is dynamic.

The architecture reflects the richness and povert...

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