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Issue 76 - The history makers

Whisky Magazine Issue 76
November 2008

 

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The history makers

For our 10th anniversary issue,Ian Buxton profiles 10 people who have shaped today's global whisky industry.While these are only short biographical sketchs of individuals,all of whom deserve an article or book in their own right,we hope it may inspire you to discover more.

Alfred Barnard, the great Victorian chronicler might be surprised at the importance attached today to his work. He was, after all, essentially, a relatively obscure journalist (who also tried his hand at selling soap and the wine trade) who filed the reports collected in The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom for a trade audience. But today this superb volume, often tantalising in its lack of detail and frustrating in its obsession with apparently irrelevant details, is the most complete record of Victorian distilling. It is often our only source for information on a lost distillery and an unwitting testimony to the beginning of the decline of the Irish industry.

Capitalising on his success (like any good whisky writer) he also accepted commissions to write some six promotional brochures for various distillers – all now very rare and collectable.

M. Joseph Antoine Borty was the French winemaker who, in 1862, unwittingly imported phylloxera to Europe.

Unfortunately for the French wine industry, his home village of Roquemaure lies on the banks of the Rhone in the heart of the Languedoc and is thus ideally placed for the rapid transmission of the phylloxera aphids that so devastated native European vines.

The collapse of wine production meant cognac production dropped dramatically, opening the door for whisky's global domination. So the world of whisky says ‘Merci, M Borty'!

In 1824, Aeneas Coffey resigned his post as Inspector General of Excise for Ireland (then...

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