It is hard to define what constitutes a great whisky moment.They just sneak up on you. Suddenly the drink in your hand isn’t just an accompaniment, rather everything flows from it. It is place, people, mood and liquid in harmony.Not surprisingly, they tend not to come along very often, which shows how unusual it was that when in South Africa recently, three came along at once.No 1: We’d been driving for hours. I wasn’t quite sure where Emil was going but since he wouldn’t tell us and the only other South African was asleep in the back seat, Mr Camisa and I had nothing better to do than watch the Natal landscape unfold. That said, even we realised that rather than heading east back to Durban, we appeared to be heading south east.“Don’t worry, I’m taking you to the beach,” says Emil, driving even faster.Ants were hitting the windscreen with the force of pebbles, leaving a white deposit that even the most powerful detergent couldn’t shift. Emil simply hunched forward and drove faster.He finally stopped. He had to as the road had vanished. In front of us was jungle.Sian finally woke up, somewhat surprised not to be back in Durban.“Are we near?” she asked.“About 200k south,” says Emil blithely. “Let’s go to the beach!” It was worth it. An expanse of deserted white sand, the mist from the gently breaking waves hazing the sunset hued light. We paddled in bathwarm water and cracked a bottle of Duncan Taylor North Port.Its subtle sweetness matched the mood perfectly.No 2 : I’d been in Durban to co-host a whisky dinner with the culinary genius who is Bruce Robertson. Normally whisky and food pairings are worked out by sitting down with the chef, tasting, discussing and planning.This time though there had been 6,000 odd miles between Bruce and I, so this had to be planned on the theoretical plane.Thankfully it worked In fact, it was one of these rare meals where every combination worked.We had Clynelish 14 year old paired with monkfish and warthog carpaccio and Thai inspired neeps and tatties; then oxtail with truffle smoked risotto, matched with Auchentoshan Three Wood.If the first combo was good the second was greater, the slowbraised meat bringing out the richness and sweetness of the Three Wood, a tiny baked apple filled with ice cream giving a lift. Everything showed how whisky can be a valid partner to great food.No 3: Okay, the food was somewhat different to Bruce’s, but it was great in its own way. The cast iron pots in Wandie’s back room were filled with curry, stew, vegetables and tripe.Wandie’s is a Sowetan landmark, one of the shebeens which sprang up in people’s houses during apartheid; places to relax, drink, talk but also meet and talk politics, plan for change.Tonight I’m there with Jason Duganzich from Glenfiddich and the team of mentors the distiller has put together who are going out to bars, clubs and houses in the region, talking to people about whisky getting the bottles there, inspiring them to try this drink.On one hand you can view this programme as ‘empowerment’, but that term is subtly patronising. This is about equality and respect.The evening wasn’t about food matching but about icechinking, cigar smoke-drifting, whisky-talking life. Politics, Scotland, South Africa, flavour, food, music, tall tales. Jokes.For me now Glenfiddich 12 years old will always remind me of tripe.The success of the this (and other) campaigns lies in the simple fact that whisky has become the drink of choice among the new black middle class. Drinking malt whisky is political, though perhaps only subconsciously so. In this part of the world it is a rejection of the old ways, the old drinks.Equally, it is a shorthand for success, along with the designer suit and the BMW.Don’t think that this is just whisky as bling, however. There is a genuine desire to learn about flavour. This market is just starting. There are more magic moments to come.