It's Christmas here and I'm not happy. Yes, I'm well aware that by the time you read this the festive season will be a long forgotten memory and if you happen to be reading this in America, you're
well on your way to the next holiday season.But try and picture the scene. I'm at home minding my own business, desperately seeking excuses for not going Christmas shopping and avoiding the children, who are displaying all the symptoms of hysteria and are likely to explode before the weekend, and the editor of this magazine calls to say he's been let down and could I provide a column at the last moment.I had to say no because I'm a bit above this sort of thing these days. But there's nothing worse than hearing a grown man cry, so in the spirit of the season I reluctantly agreed.Now before we go on, I need to point out a few things.Firstly, the name at the top is a pseudonym. I nicked it from the remarkably talented and sadly semi-retired rock legend who played guitar for Deep Purple and Rainbow, and whose philosophies I try to live my life by.It was he who said, for instance, that he was the sort of bloke who would be a natural leader in the event of a nuclear attack, but couldn't handle it if his bacon was cooked wrong at breakfast.I can relate to that. Except quite who you'd lead after a nuclear attack and against what, has troubled me for some years now. Oh, and I can't stand bacon.Otherwise, though, he has a point.The other thing I want to point out is that I'm using a pseudonym because I am pretty well known these days. Don't try to guess - you won't manage to. But I will say I am not AAGill even though I have
taken to calling my wife 'the blond' as it amuses me and annoys her. Particularly as she's a brunette.Now the reason I accepted the offer was because I do have a point to make about whisky and it's this. In recent weeks I have had the good fortune to stay in some pretty special hotels. The sort of places where three blokes in fancy dress open the door for you, everyone is foreign and they want to come and turn your blankets down just as you've undressed and are about to step in the shower.I'm told you could get used to this sort of life but I think there's no chance and you know why? Because most of them haven't a bloody clue when it comes to serving whisky.Take last Saturday. The blonde and I are about to have dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant in London when the French sommelier presents us with a wine list that looks like the Encyclopaedia Britannica and which contains 3,353 French wines and approximately two from the New World. I admit I'm out of my depth here and try and order a white Pinot Noir New World wine and end up with something from Hungary.So after dinner I attempt to regain some credibility and ask to see a whisky list. The hotel has a total of just 12, nearly all of them standard expressions from Diageo. And it gets worse.After selecting a Lagavulin and some Roquefort (stunning - hand made, rather than factory made, occupying a place somewhere between solid and liquid and virtually walking off the plate) my
drink turns up in a tumbler so large that the whisky doesn't actually manage to fully cover the bottom of it and has evaporated by the time I have attempted my first mouthful.
This happens a lot with hotels. Once I went to the launch of a new special vintage whisky and we had to ask for wine glasses because the hotel only had tumblers.I think that a hotel should lose a rating star if it doesn't fully understand glassware, and I think the readers of Whisky Magazine should launch a campaign against tumblers for single malts. Waiting
staff should be harangued for their ineptitude, sommeliers should be summoned and insulted. And the magazine should publish a guide whisky list that can be photocopied and posted to offending hotels.There, I've said it.Can I go back to my Christmas sulking now please?