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Issue 84 - Whisky in the War Zone

Whisky Magazine Issue 84
November 1999


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Whisky in the War Zone

Rob Allanson talks to veteran BBC journalist John Simpson about whisky,wars and passing the passion for the spirit on to a younger generation.

Most peoples' greatest malt moments are usually something of a joy, a dram shared with a friend or a remarkable sample at the distillery. However for the BBC's World Affairs Editor John Simpson, one of the whisky moments that sticks in his mind is laced with terror.

The waste of a great whisky is a dreadful enough experience for most drinkers, but for John his most memorable whisky moment was “one of the worst experiences of my life”.

The seasoned journalist, has packed a bottle of malt in his luggage since 1990 more often than not Laphroaig, had been sent out on assignment to Afghanistan before the 2001 US led invasion. The Taliban were in control and had started to crack down on foreigners with alcohol.

He explains ebulliently during our interview: “I could hear them coming down the corridor searching the rooms on the floor of the hotel, searching for alcohol and behaving monstrously.

“My room was right at the end and I thought I would hold off disposing of the whisky until quite late in case they get bored and went away, but they were coming closer and closer. In the end I poured it, a bottle of Laphroaig, down the toilet and of course, Sod's Law, they stopped a couple of rooms away!

“I did think, such is my devotion to good whisky, that I could scoop it out, but then thought better of it. It was like pouring my own blood away – a very, very nasty experience.” Though his reporting career stretches back to the days of UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson in th...

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