Whisky Magazine Issue 61
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Kate Ennis looks at why the Italians have such a passion for whisky
The sharply tailored Armani suit, the Rolex watch, the Ferrari sports car… not forgetting the Gucci sunglasses, of course.
The Italians are renowned for their instinctive style and good taste and ‘Fare la bella figura' (to look good) is an activity they've made a true art form.
Within its world of luxury, no wonder whisky carries such great cachet. Ordering a whisky in an bar is all part of that emphatic lifestyle statement.
Scotch imports first arrived on to Italian shores during the late 1800s, as people were becoming more cosmopolitan and they desired foreign goods that carried a certain allure.
The whisky brands emerging at that time were blends such as Dewar's White Label, White Horse and J&B. Between the World Wars, less travel opportunities meant that the limited imports maintained their worldly glamour.
The 1920s saw the creation of legendary nightclub Harry's Bar in Venice and although it may be most famous for the Bellini, whisky was also a popular serve here, with high demand for Scotch and bourbon, Whisky Sours and Manhattans.
It was in the late 1950s when Parma-based whisky importer and bottler, Ernesto Mainardi, first discovered whisky.
Working in hotel bars in his mid teens he became fascinated with Scotland and its distilleries.
He believes whisky was accepted so readily in Italy because: “Italians were used to drinking neat spirits but whisky is mellower than grappa and brandy, which are both strong and hard to digest” he says.
“With the co...