The Jackson Five

The Jackson Five

As Michael is away we have decided to select some of the best bits from his columns spanning 60 editions of Whisky Magazine

Musings with Michael Jackson | 10 Nov 2006 | Issue 60 | By Michael Jackson

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Marketing men’s stock-in-trade is the self-fulfilling prophesy. They constantly tell us that, in all areas of food and drink, we want even paler, lighter-bodied, blander products. Many people do, but the industry appeases them at its peril. Make Scotches lighter and blander and the message is clear: ‘malt, peat, sherry, salt and seaweed taste horrible. We are doing our best to remove all whisky tastes from our product. Lack of flavour is good’. This might be more succinctly expressed in two words: ‘Drink vodka.’
From “Life beyond Lagavulin” Issue 1 “But there was a bit of problem when the bishop here said it was a sin to make or drink poitin.” Had this harmed business?“No, but it put a strain on the parish priest. So many people were going to confession he couldn’t cope.”
From “Poitin patrol” Issue 9 Picking up a yellow cab in Detroit seemed a good idea.As my photographer colleague Ian loaded his equipment into the trunk, the cabbie recalled the time a passenger left an expensive camera on the back seat.He had just dropped the passenger at a pedestrianised mall.Grabbing the camera, the driver jumped out of the cab, spotted his passenger in the distance, and gave chase. The passenger didn’t recognise him.“He saw this black man chasing him, and ran like hell until he’d lost me. He thought I was going to mug him.” The cabbie’s roar of laughter came from somewhere deep in his survival mechanism. As I left his cab, I tried to tip him with a spare bottle from my suitcase. A particularly fine bourbon. He turned out to be a Baptist, dammit.
From “Our Good Friend to the North” Issue 31 Arrogance has been known to manifest itself among writers and journalists, but this rarely happens in cabs. Laptop poised, we arrive in a faraway country of which we know little, take a cab from the airport, ask the driver his opinion on the forthcoming war, election or whisky tasting, and arrive at the hotel ready to file a story.“Bowmore, Islay, Tuesday: This windswept island nation will within the week invade the seccessionist colony of Jura, according to informed sources. Islay’s President Jimbo has reportedly lost his patience with the rebel band of deer that currently control Jura,” etc, etc.On such an assignment, I flew into Wick to find only one taxi at the airport. I hired it for the weekend. As we drove off, the cabbie introduced herself: “They call me Mad Cathie.” I wondered why. “Maybe it’s because they think I’m a terrible driver.” In Inverness, a cabbie identified himself as Billy Bun. Not only did Billy locate precisely the sites of the long demolished Glens Albyn and Mhor, both now buried; he also drew my attention to two relevant pubs, one called the Glen Albyn.Still budding with helpfulness, he insisted on finding the 1893-1926 version of the Ferintosh distillery, now posing as a business park.When at first he did not succeed, he drove to Dingwall police station and insisted that they help him with our inquiries. Under close questioning, they finally released the fugitive Ferintosh into our custody.
From “Call me a cab” Issue 46 A first impression, or a sole encounter, can linger indelibly.The only time I met Ted Heath (the recently departed former British prime minister) was at a conference on marketing.There was an informal gathering of speakers and press.Heath’s handlers had managed to procure him some whisky, but there was none for the press.I don’t suppose it was his fault, but having a drink in front of thirsty journalists was like eating a freshly-killed lamb in front of a pack of salivating wolves. For a career politician, it is not smart to annoy the press. I would have thought that was pretty basic.There was a little forced banter, but the awkwardness of the moment is my dominant memory of a leader now being credited with great statesmanship. That Mr Heath had to pull the old trick of dying in order to be appreciated simply goes to show the importance of being generous with one’s whisky.
From “At heaven’s gate” Issue 50
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