Untitled Article

Untitled Article

Charles MacLean

16 October 1999

Publication: Issue 6

With this issue Whisky Magazine celebrates its first anniversary. The birthday party will be held in New York because this issue also marks our arrival in the US, the largest consumer of whisky and whiskey in the world.Who better then to be our celebrity interviewee than Ralph Steadman, a man totally at home on both sides of the Atlantic. Our editor Jane Slade uncovers some surprising sides to the great illustrator and his stormy relationship with the malt.As Gary and Mardee Regan remind us in the first of their articles about the history of American whiskey, the secrets of making the water of life were brought to the New World by Scots and Irish immigrants. Indeed the Rev. Elijah Craig himself, aka 'The Father of Bourbon', came from good Scots stock. He used whatever grains came to hand, first rye and wheat, then corn, to produce spirits which have evolved into the huge range of fine American whiskeys available today. Whisk(e)y is an alchemical transformation of the earth’s fruits and elements – cereals, water, yeast – into liquid gold. Its connections with the elements are vividly recollected by both Jim Murray's memoir of the terrible fire which destroyed Heaven Hill Distillery three years ago, and by Andrew Jefford's sailing log from the time when he accompanied the Classic Malts Cruise off the West Coast of Scotland. Malt lovers will be heartened to read that only liberal doses of the nectar prevented him from freezing to death.The influence of location upon the character of the finished product is also explored by Margaret Rand in her investigation of Talisker Distillery on the Isle of Skye. Nobody knows exactly what produces the chilli-pepper finish that is Talisker's hallmark, but it’s certainly in total harmony with its birthplace.Whisk(e)y making was long considered to be part of the cycle of the farming year. Dave Broom's time working at Bowmore Distillery, on Islay, and Marcin Miller's week in Kentucky remind us that the steady rhythms of nature are fundamental to the art of whisk(e)y making. Now a word about the tastings. Thirty-one Islay malts come under the scrutiny of our expert noses in this issue. Indeed this is probably the most extensive independent tasting of Islay whiskies ever published. I have the pleasant task of exploring the complex flavours of the Chivas Regal stable, whileMargaret Rand visits the Scotch Malt Whisky Society's trendy new place in the City of London, and Dave Broom risks his liver to investigate a hat trick of Manhattan whisky bars. Now charge your glass and enjoy.

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