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Issue 58 - A question of choice

Whisky Magazine Issue 58
August 2006

 

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A question of choice

Michael Jacksonponders the age old question of what's your favourite

What was the best dram you ever enjoyed? I am not turning on you the question I most often dismiss.

When people ask, as they constantly do, what is my favourite malt, I tell them there is no such creature.

There is the right malt for the time and place – the mood and moment. They cannot always be made to coincide (Hemingway and Dietrich had the same problem).

When they do, the Grampians move. Unless, of course, one is on Islay, in which case the roof blows off.

The perfection of such moments is lodged in the memory.

On my first visit to Ardbeg in the 1980s, when it was silent, the caretaker manager gave me a heavily sherried dram to keep out the cold while I was given a tour. We lingered in the stillsmoky maltings, and the whisky seemed to fill my every vein and artery, until my heart was warm and won.

One year at the Islay Festival, my partner was about to drive straight past Ardbeg. “I've had enough distillery tours for the moment,” she pleaded.

We had been round all the others in a couple of days on the island, but that would have made an even sadder ommission to miss her favourite (she is allowed to have a first choice; she is not a whisky writer).

Thus persuaded, she agreed to a quick walk round the outside, but no entry: no examinations of mash tuns, washbacks, spirit safes and such. Someone just happened to be looking through a window. It was a gusty day, and they were probably checking that the roof on the visitor centre was still intact. Manager Stuart ...

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