Enjoying the drink of the gods

2012-11-05 00:00

SOME folks are born lucky, but few could be as fortunate as Dennis Malcolm, who was born with whisky in his veins.

Malcolm, who was in Durban for the whisky festival that started on Thursday, was born at the GlenGrant Distillery in Rothes, Scotland, where his grandfather and father worked.

It was a natural progression for the young Malcolm who is today the distillery’s master distiller.

“I never studied or took a degree to get where I am. I just grew up with it and started as a cooper, making casks for the whisky to mature in,” says Malcolm.

“In time, I ventured onto the management side of things, learning the whole production process, and at one stage controlled nine distilleries within a 50-mile radius.”

Malcolm does not need to die as he is already in heaven.

“I am at the distillery every day which means, in the 47 years I have been married, I have probably seen my wife a grand total of four years.”

When asked about the different whiskies seen on the shelves, Malcolm is as honest as they come. “There is no good or bad whisky. Every distillery is different. The process is the same, but how long it’s in the cask and what is added differs, just like people. We all have the same parts, yet we are different.”

It has been said that whisky is the drink of the gods and for Malcolm that’s no lie. He says that when the whisky is in the casks, evaporation accounts for what is called the “Angels’ share”. This is about two percent per annum or 1 000 barrels a year.

“I think I look after the angels well and should head in the right direction when I die,” he says.

A session of whisky tasting with the master at the unusual hour of 11 am, called on all the reserves of willpower and the suppression of rebellious tastebuds. There’s an art to tasting and gulping down half a glass like they do in the movies is just for show.

A true gentleman, who respects the worth of the amber liquid, will put just over a tot in a glass, hold it up to admire its colour, give it a twirl and breathe in its richness.

In its pure state, it can be a little overpowering, but add a touch of water and, as Malcolm says: “It opens up a spring garden, releasing a rush of scents and flavours, some fruity, some nutty, but always refreshing.”

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