Whisky Advocate

Sharing a Michael Jackson Story with you

July 28th, 2010

I was in London, in the Diageo offices on this particular morning. Diageo was introducing several new limited edition whiskies, and a handful of whisky writers were getting a preview. Among the attendees was my good friend Michael Jackson.

We sampled probably close to a dozen whiskies, with the tasting concluding around lunchtime. I hadn’t seen Michael for several months, so I suggested we have lunch together. We weren’t far away from the Fuller’s Brewery and he said he knew of a great Fuller’s pub just down from the brewery along the Thames called The Dove. It was a short stroll away, so that’s where we went.

Well, the Fuller’s Chiswick Bitter was in perfect condition, so we each had a pint before lunch. With lunch, it was a pint each of Fuller’s London Pride. Delicious!

We were finishing up our lunch, having a great time together getting caught up with stories ab0ut our travels, the whisky business, etc. Not wanting the good times to end, I proposed we each have another pint. It was about 2:oo pm, and I didn’t have any plans for the rest of the afternoon.

Michael hesitated for a moment, contemplating the whiskies we tasted in the morning, along with the the two pints of beer we enjoyed with lunch. Then he responded, with a slight grin (like he has in the picture I included of him above):

“Better make mine a half pint, John. I have a Five O’clock deadline for a story I’m doing for the Independent. It’s on vodka. I need to go back to my office, taste 20 vodkas and then write the story.”

I just cracked up laughing! I don’t know if it was exactly 20 vodkas, but it was something like that. And I (unfortunately) never did get to read the vodka story in the Independent, but I sure am glad I wasn’t the Independent’s copy editor that day. 🙂

23 Responses to “Sharing a Michael Jackson Story with you”

  1. B.J. Reed says:

    Great story – I see a book coming – Travels with John – 🙂

  2. Luke says:

    Great story!

    More like this please John!

  3. Gary says:

    Nice story. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I remember you telling me that story years ago, John, and my reaction then (as now) was, “But Michael always told me he doesn’t like vodka!” I agree, I would have loved to have read that story..

    • John Hansell says:

      My guess is that they (the Independent) asked him to do it for them, and he was a regular writer for them. Michael never was good at saying “no”, which probably explains why he was so busy all the time. (And why his column for Malt Advocate was always late.)

      He did put out a cocktail book (which I still have somewhere) and occassionally dabbled in drinks not of the malty kind.

  5. Man, I miss Michael! Thanks for sharing the story, John…

  6. Scribe says:

    John, if your memory is circa 1997, I wonder if this might be the story that resulted from Michael’s late-day “taste test?”–drink-fire-water–the-spirit-world-1294237.html

    Even if not, this brought back fond memories of his writing and the passion for his subjects that he shared with his readers!

    • John Hansell says:

      Wow, that’s the one! Here’s how I know (besides the fact that I don’t believe he wrote too many vodka articles for the Independent):

      That morning, when we were at Diageo’s office for the whisky tasting, that’s when the employees found out that their company’s name was going to be changed from what I believe was United Distillers at the time to Diageo. I just checked, and Diageo formed in December 2007. Michael’s article published November 15th. So, this verifies that this was the story that Michael wrote that day.

      Amazing! Thank you so much for finding it and sharing it! It’s classic MJ!

  7. bgulien says:

    Confirms to me that MJ was one of the greatest drinks writer. Can remember the Beer Hunter series on tv.
    But John, you’re a worthy sucessor to the great man.

  8. bgulien says:

    Wonder about the state of his liver ? 😉

  9. John Burlowski says:


    Just today, I received my copy of the Michael Jackson tribute book (I was delinquent in ordering it). Read your article with a healthy pour of PHC 2008 bourbon (Tt being hump day, and all).

    A great read and a great tribute to a true champion of whisky.

    Thanks for contributing and sharing.John

  10. As above I also recomend people get a copy of Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser (an excellent tribute to MJ) and you can read another story by JH. Profits go to the Parkinson’s Disease Society so a worthy cause to boot.

  11. Tim M says:

    Reminds me of a favorite Andy Capp cartoon. Andy at the pub, all you see is an empty glass and two hands on the rail (one holding a lit cigarette), Andy obviously well in his cups. Jackie the publican says “one more, Andy?” and the reply from the floor was “just a half, Jack.” to which Jackie said “Thats our AndyCapp, Moderation in all things, even in Excess.”

    Classic story, John, thanks for the smile.

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