By Rob Allanson

An industry mourns

The whisky world has paid tribute to one of its biggest supporters – Michael Jackson–long time Whisky Magazine contributor, author, journalist and towering authority on whisky and beer. Here is a selection from the forum and received directly by the Editor
The first memory of Michael? On the (then new) Channel 4. A Yorkshireman presenting a series on beer?! It was captivating, not just because of the subject matter, but of how he avoided the pretentiousness which is still the default setting for drinks broadcasting. He couldn't have done pretentious if you had given him a million bucks. He was too honest for that, he had too strong a sense of self.Though he was dealing with fans he was unaffected by fame. MJ was never bigger than the subject, never didactic, there was no sense of the egotistical impulse.The American microbrew industry, real ale in the UK, the birth of single malt, whisky and beer writing, none would exist as we know them without MJ. He was the touchstone and we all owe him an incalculable debt.Now I'll never again be greeted with a "Hi buddy!" and a bear hug, there will be no more long car and plane rides fuelled by endless anecdotes. Travelling companion, colleague, collaborator, mentor, friend. Go well buddy.
Dave Broom The team at Burn Stewart Distillers would like to pass their messages of sympathy to Michael's family, friends and colleagues, on the sad passing of a true whisky inspiration.We were lucky enough to enjoy Michael's company at Whisky Live and were delighted when he agreed to join us to celebrate the relaunching of our Bunnahabhain Islay Malt Whisky on board the Royal Yacht Britannia in January 2006. Atrue gentleman, he spent an exemplary amount of time with our team and his insight was invaluable.
Burn Stewart Distillers I have had the privilege of Michael's acquaintance since February 1984, when we met en route to various Czech breweries - a trip full of incident that he recalled with great fondness when we met last, earlier this year. Over this time I grew to admire not just his writing, his encyclopaedic knowledge, his passion but also the good humour and fortitude with which he bore his long-standing illness. His importance as a writer on both beer and whisky will grow in the future but for now we mourn the loss of a comrade, loyal friend and true guide.
Ian Buxton I met Michael in 1995, surrounded by faux monks in the London restaurant Belgo, which is ironic since I discovered nothing fake about him in the decade-plus to follow. I particularly remember his humbling response to some cynical remark of mine after a night of talking shop in a pub. He was a straight-up guy and a good friend, and that's the reason so many people around the world were raising a melancholy glass on September 1.
Jefferson Chase For years, each revised edition of Michael's Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch was an eagerly awaited bible and guidebook for whisky lovers around the world.He was a voice for both excellence and moderation, who will be missed by whisky aficionados everywhere.
Frank Coleman-Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Michael brought the world an understanding of malt whisky. His sense of fun, scholarly writings and anecdotes sprinkled with classic wit remain in fond, vivid memory.With the combination of a genuine love of people and knowledge of his subject, he so modestly taught us to value and really understand each and every "wee dram". Rightfully, he became a legend in his own lifetime.
Ronnie Cox-Glenrothes and BBR Out with the master blenders, Michael was the first to evaluate the Glencairn Glass by nosing some 25 single malts, and his endorsement was followed by continual support for the innovation. We shared the view that whisky, good company and music gang thegither and I am pleased that our last meeting ( in the Highlander, Craigellachie ) encompassed these ...and lasted eight hours! He had a gem to offer on every topic and, sadly, the industry has lost a colourful and true icon of whisky.
Ray Davidson-Glencairn Crystal I have many fond memories of drinking with Michael back in the 1960s in Edinburgh in the original Oxford Bar.We also had some great times with him when he came up to the distillery to conduct masterclasses. It is a great loss to the industry and I am proud to have called him a friend.
John Grant-J&GGrant Michael had a breadth of view, a towering intellect and was a truly talented writer. Above all he had a charm and warmth that touched all he met.His honest ratings of the top drawer quality of The Macallan undoubtedly played a major role in the success that we have enjoyed. His writings have encouraged new drinkers across the globe to try and enjoy single malts.
Ken Grier- The Edrington Group The passing of Michael is the end of an era, I always thought of him as indestructable in the face of adversity.I think back to his trips to Islay which he enjoyed to the full, that was when we were launching the 30 year old Laphroaig and years later having breakfast every morning in Japan during Whisky Live.Michael was in charge of events when Christine Logan surprised me and everyone else I suspect on the occassion of my 65th birthday.We had discussed about how long we should keep on working and he was of the same opinion as myself that we should keep on as long as we feel able.
Iain Henderson -St George's Distillery Michael Jackson was a man of talent who devoted his life to the world of beer and whiskey.We remember his integrity, his wonderful tasting ability and resourceful vocabulary.We've spent many a good time together.
Irish DistillersMichael was a hero of mine long before I met him. This view was reinforced after I met him and we became friends.Anytime I met with Michael, as well as his fast professional knowledge and passion for his subject, Michael was a really nice bloke.Whether we were meeting in Tain, London, the Ozark mountains or whereever - every encounter was an inspirational and enjoyable experience.There will never be another like him.
Dr Bill Lumsden-The Glenmorangie Company
In the canon of whisky writing, he was a giant.His constantly updated Malt Whisky Companion is the best guide to available expressions, and I have always found his tasting notes reliable.I first met Michael in Edinburgh's Bow Bar in 1987. I was negotiating the contract for my first book about whisky, and asked his advice about this.As always he was open, encouraging, helpful. This was also my first exposure to his deep and entertaining fund of stories about whisky people, which was expanded upon with generosity and humour over the subsequent years.
Charlie MacLean
Michael will truly will be missed by the thousands of whisky fans around the world who were lucky enough to share a little of the great man's time.And time was something he was always happy to give, regardless of how busy he was.The number of flights he almost missed is legendary, and you could rely on him to be late for most events.Of course, he was immediately forgiven the moment he started his lectures because of the passion he showed for his subject was so infectious - being both educational, humorous and inspirational.In my travels around the world we journeyed together many times.In whatever weirdand wonderful location we met, he was always the same, there were no sides to Michael other than a kind, generous, caring man.
Jim McEwan-Bruichladdich Distillery
Michael was one of life's great extroverts possessing a wicked sense of humour coupled with an unsurpassed knowledge of whisky.We shall all miss him.
Frank McHardy -Springbank Distillery
Michael Jackson was the world's greatest whisky writer.As if that wasn't sufficient achievement, he was also the world's best beer writer.When Damian and I were planning the launch of Whisky Magazine, Michael was the first name in the frame; his participation would add authority to the new publication.Unlike some whisky writers, Michael was never the story. He was interested in everything, wore his knowledge lightly and was never patronising.As with many others in the industry, I spent more time with Michael in Japan, the USAand Europe than in the UK but that didn't matter. We would still have a drink and, when we chose to temporarily move away from the topic of whisky, conversation would inevitably turn to discussions of religion, the relative merits of rugby union and rugby league and, finally, to modern jazz.
Marcin Miller -Quercus Communications
Michael Jackson was perhaps the first to write seriously about single malt Scotch whisky.He opened the door for many consumers and would-be enthusiasts, just when distillers and bottlers were also feeling their way into the category. He was also a man of fierce passions, most of all in his impatience with lazy writing: he was, I think, sometimes frustrated that his work wasn't taken as seriously as it should have been, for first and foremost he was a journalist, and a writer.
Nick Morgan-Diageo Michael Jackson was the man responsible for reintroducing America with the world of whiskey. Through his writing he gave whiskey back a level of respect that it had not held since before Prohibition.
Chris Morris-Woodford Reserve Farewell to my brother in drams. Whisky, his last masterpiece is presented as "The definitive world guide". That's what Michael is and will always be. But there is much more beyond the passionate explorer who has opened the path of whisky to all of us. We will miss not only a talented writer and an inimitable storyteller but also an affectionate friend. Knowledge is worthless without love. Michael loved those whom he met and wrote about or for. I have lost a brother in drams. Michael you were right. Since that damned Black Thursday, I can certify that there is salt in whisky as tears drop in my glass.
Martine Nouet The man who shared his name with a celebrity in showbiz, once said about that coincidence: "I am the one who doesn't dance, sing or drink coca cola." Instead he taught hundreds of thousands of people all over the world how to enjoy their dram. Without any exaggeration, since Michael's Malt Whisky Companion sold more than 800,000 copies.The Grand Old Man of Whisky is no more. His death leaves a void for many, many people.Becky and I lost a very dear friend. Afriend who, above all, was a fellow writer, with whom I could share so many things.
Hans & Becky Offringa-Aka The Whisky Couple If you were asked to name the author of a great book on beer or whisky invariably Michael Jackson's name would not surprisingly be top of the list. After all he wasn't just anybody, to many of us he was more famous than his counterpart.But his warm likeable personality and of course his many books on Scotch whisky in particular on single malt whisky will always rise above his illness. In fact he is respected even more for it because he never gave up - he always soldiered on.He was the world's greatest whisky evangelist. He was a hero and I am proud to say he was a friend.
Richard Paterson-Whyte & Mackay On rare occasions, Scotch and bourbon - two whiskies divided by a common barrel - unite in perfect harmony.The passing of Michael Jackson is one of those occasions. As bourbon and Scotch we come together to thank - and to remember one of our most respected whisky columnists.Michael revolutionised how consumers viewed bourbon.And just as connoisseurs thought they knew everything they could possibly know about their wee drams, he enhanced their experience with Scotch as well.Michael will be missed by each and every one of us at Beam Global Spirits & Wine.
Dave Pickerell -Makers Mark
John Campbell - Laphroaig
Frederick Booker Noe III -Bourbon Ambassador Michael's passion for all things malt ensured he was one of our earliest confidants when researching Whisky Magazine.His undinting enthusiasm for the title, his boundless energy and raft of ideas ensured that once discussed we were on a road that had no end. He has been an invaluable guide; wise, inspirational and invariably right.Knowledgeable with no bounds, informative with conviction and always on the side of sharing his passion with people throughout the world. He has left a strong mark on all our lives and so much would not have been possible without him.
Damian Riley Smith - Whisky Magazine Michael is rightly credited for being the world's best whisky and beer writer but often other aspects of his personality are overlooked. He was a fiercely intelligent man but one of the most humble I have ever met. He was generous with his time and he was happy to allow others into his limelight.He was a complex character, too, with a wicked sense of humour.My favourite memories of him are long chats about our shared love of rugby and particularly rugby league, and of discussing the great newspaper days of hot metal and powerful print unions.His long time partner once said Michael reminded her of a Porteus mill - made in Yorkshire, reliable, and likely to go on forever. In the memories of whisky drinkers around the world he will indeed be with us always.
Dominic Roskrow Michael was a very special friend and a man of his word. He didn't waste any time writing or drinking something he didn't like! We both shared a very close bond and he will be missed by all.
Jimmy Russell -Wild Turkey Michael transformed the appreciation of Scotch whisky for millions of consumers, and especially the single malt, with his tenacious and enthusiastic approach to the subject.Whether he was in the US, Japan or Scotland, he would instantly be surrounded by adoring fans thankful for helping them to appreciate the many different Scotch whiskies in an honest and informative way. His enthusiasm was infectious as was his ability to endear everyone to him. He will be greatly missed all over the world.
Colin Scott -Chivas Brothers Michael had made a recent visit to the company and left an immediate impact on all members of staff with his abundant knowledge and passion for Scotch whisky.After having spent some time alone in his company over the years I personally found Michael to be somewhat shy and might I say surprised at his standing in the world of Scotch whisky.His unassuming character and trademark 'writer's look' singled him out and this aura enchanted listeners throughout the world who attended his lectures.He had exceptional knowledge of the subject and his championing of lesser known whiskies always pleased myself and my colleagues.
Euan Shand-Duncan Taylor Michael was a true pioneer of whisky writing. The meticulous approach he took to his subject was, for me, best illustrated when accompanying him through muddy barley fields around Dufftown in search of the perfect sheaf. The comedy of such occasions would always be bettered by the resulting witty, observational copy enjoyed by so many.
David Stewart -William Grant & Sons Michael was a true source of inspiration to me throughout my career.Already an icon before I started out in this industry, I was always touched by his unique knowledge and incredible passion for Scotch which he shared freely with genuine enthusiasm and humility.We were very touched and honoured by his presence in July 2002 at our dinner celebrating the acquisition of Edradour Distillery, and were naturally concerned to learn, when he later visited the distillery, that someone so famous as Michael Jackson could possibly have experienced difficulty ordering a taxi at 1.30am.
Andrew Symington-Edradour To be a whiskey missionary in recent decades has been a difficult and often thankless task.Michael was not only a committed missionary, but maybe even a zealot. He held high standards and was not afraid to express and to write tough opinions on the industry he loved.Whiskey was more than a drink to Michael, more than an occasion, it was the sense of an occasion.Sometimes, you wonder about the world. Just as he begins to reap the rewards of a growing whiskey industry, he is taken. Totranslate a Gaelic proverb; "That his soul may sit at the right hand of God."
John Teeling-Cooley Distillery Michael was a very good friend of many of us at Gordon & MacPhail. Michael was the pioneer of whisky writing including his first book, The World Guide to Whisky in 1987. He was a great ambassador for single malt whisky around the world and his writing helped to raise awareness and increase people's knowledge of the wonderful world of malt whisky. He will be sadly missed.
David Urquhart-Gordon & MacPhail Witty, individual and with a huge pioneering enthusiasm for single malt whisky. It was always a pleasure when Michael could find the time in his hectic schedule to attend tastings or whisky occasions.His charisma and very objective thoughts and opinions were always sure to inspire discussion and debate. Aprivilege to welcome and host, we will fondly remember his last trip to Bowmore, his continuous support and his friendship.' David Wilson-Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd The first time we met Michael was in 1983 in London. He'd come to meet us on the Cadenhead's stand to collect samples for his first book, the Malt Whisky Companion. From the outset we were very impressed with his knowledge and enthusiasm and that first book has since become the benchmark that all other whisky books aremeasured against. Michael was always a welcome visitor at Springbank and he'll be sorely missed.
HedleyGWrightand Neil Clapperton - J&A Mitchell & Co Ltd