By Rob Allanson

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Star letter - From the frontline
I'm currently deployed to Iraq and in a recent care package was a copy of your great magazine. As a native of Kentucky and with ties to Scotland, whiskies of the world are near and dear to my heart. Your issue inspired me to write a few words about America's Native Spirit far from home.Perhaps there are others who share my longing for the taste of a good dram too."I use my sleeve to wipe the sand and sweat from my forehead and it only further dirties my face. My body armour is tight today and my helmet is getting heavier.Aside from the flies and the heat, the only thing on my mind is home; and bourbon on the rocks. The water in all the stacks of plastic bottles look at me and teases. This 'potable' water couldn't be further from the water on my mind. Because the water that runs through my blood is from the limestone of the Bluegrass."America's Native Spirit is always in my mind. It's forever a fixture at family gatherings or late night rendezvous. It's there joining the party on ice. Maybe it's sharing the glass with Coke. Or perhaps, it's even dressed in its winter costume as eggnog as the lights go up on the Christmas tree. It's there. It's a part of Kentucky. It's a familiar smell or taste. Like rain on August blacktop, the feel of a winning tote ticket in hand, or Mom's Hot Brown fresh from the oven; they are a part of the Commonwealth Home."From the bottom shelf and standing room only in Churchill Downs Infield 3rd Turn, to the top shelf and a comfortable seat next to my father, bourbon is there. It marks weddings and homecomings, birthdays and wakes. It lubricates social situations and it serves as a nightcap after a long day at work. But as the "hard times come a-knockin' at the door", it will be awhile before I'm able to taste Kentucky's finest again. Or even a good Islay for that matter. The days of Whisk(e)y and the battlefield have long since past."Even so, the bluegrass and its Bourbon will always be alive in my mind as the long days in Iraq roll on." Alex Griffin, SSgt, USAF Iraq Praise for London What a wonderful show, Whisky Live London was perfect this year.I have to say that the venue was brilliant and the staff and exhibitors were polite and helpful. Well done and well organised.I also enjoyed the auction for charity that was held in memory of Michael Jackson.I only met him once at thought him my sought of man, straight to the point and says things as he sees it.I was also lucky enough to speak with his partner Paddy when she came over to say hello after I bought some bottles at the auction.I am sure the world of whisky will be a less interesting place without him.Bill Garratt, Ravensden, UK