Whisky Magazine Issue 8
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As well known for his international travelogues as his insane antics in Monty Python, Michael Palin, a New Year's honours list CBE, is one of Britain's most popular stars. Here he tells Damian Riley-Smith about the good times he has shared with a glass of whisky.
Michael Palin's first memorable whisky experience happened at the Edinburgh Festival. 1964 was the first time he had done any performing in front of a big public audience. He was part of the Oxford City Group and quartered at a Masonic lodge just on the approach to Edinburgh Castle, from where he could see rehearsals for the Tattoo. “It was wonderful because they'd all march out of the castle and by the time they reached us they had broken up and started lighting up or scratching their balls,” he fondly recalls. There was a pub next door, the Crown Bar, where Palin was introduced by the barman to a half-and-half (a pint of lager and stout mixed), with whisky as a chaser. Alternate sips of each drink are taken. Because of this experience, whisky and Scotland are inextricably linked in Palin's mind.
Since then Scotland has always been a part of Palin's life. As a Monty Python fan myself it is wonderful to hear that Scotland and whisky have played an essential part in the Monty Python's Flying Circus history books. Palin's more selective whisky drinking began when filming the first and second series of Python in Scotland. Aficionados will remember that the Holy Grail was entirely filmed there. “We had no money, only £210,000 to make an entire movie. But it was just perfect scenery – Glencoe and Rannoch Moor.” And how did whisky play its part? “We got to know the King's House pretty well, and its marvellous collection of whiskies. Late at night we would learn a litt...