Whisky Magazine Issue 88
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Dave pays tribute to South Africa's Mr Whisky.
Friends are meant to be immortal. That's their job: to always be there. So, when the news came that Don Paul, South Africa's Mr Whisky, had died, the disbelief spread like a shockwave. Don couldn't die. He was indestructible, he had beaten it before, he was a force of nature.
I first met him in Ballater where, on a balmy summer's evening, he was dressed in a thick Aran knit jumper, shivering. “I can never get used to this bloody country,” he said, his face splitting into a bright grin, his eyes gleaming with mischief. So began a true friendship, one made that little bit stronger when it transpired that we were born in the same small Glasgow nursing home. Not that Don was a nostalgic Scot, he was an African.
His name was built in South Africa where he co-founded the Johnnie Walker tasting programme, then the College Of Whisky. “Most if not all of our material we use in whisky education for Brandhouse came from his pen,” says Rynard van der Westhuizen of Brandhouse.
“Always smiling, always ready to add some marketing wisdom and savvy, he was a great whisky presenter and an astute nose…I will miss you my friend.” “He was eloquent, wise and effervescent, one of whisky's greatest ambassadors,” adds Mike Joubert, ex-Brandhouse. “I celebrate the life of a larger than life individual, a friend and a great marketing man.” He was, but he also maintained a wickedly sardonic view of some of the extremes of marketeers and could - and would - puncture pomposity wit...