Tag Archives: Scotch

Endless whiskey tour stranded by COVID-19 in New Zealand | Instant News

IEverything seems so easy. The invitation came from my old friend Michael Fraser-Milne to give a lecture at the whiskey event, DramFest, which is held every two years in Christchurch, New Zealand.

I immediately answered yes. This will be a good reason to meet with friends and see how the Kiwi whiskey industry develops. March is also a great time to visit the country, because it is the end of summer, most tourists leave and the sky is clear – and still cold and gray in Scotland where I live. For the first time in a long time, my family was also free to come with me. I will do weekend work, then we will take a three-week vacation exploring the country. Vacation for life. Tickets were booked last fall and the days were counted until we left.

Then COVID-19 emerged from the shadows and seemed to chase me around the world. I was out of China before appearing and leaving Seattle right before the first outbreak there. Its presence grows in the back of everyone’s mind, but maybe a few months ago we all felt impermeable. Moreover, there are no cases in New Zealand. There is a window. We will leave, but if things start to deteriorate we will stop the journey.

Four days in Melbourne are scheduled to break part of a long journey. I will give several whiskey classes and hold a screening of my documentary, Amber light, about Scotch’s relationship with Scottish culture. Then go to Christchurch for DramFest, for me the warmest whiskey event in the world. There, between classes and talks, I competed to try as many Kiwi whispers as possible – watching bottles from Cardrona, Thomson, and Lammermoor. All of this is whiskey that is sweet, elegant, and extraordinarily balanced, suitable for the future.

After the performance, I returned to the house where I was placed, poured the drama, and exhaled. Vacationing finally. The next day I went to the seaside town of Akaroa with my wife and daughter. The phone has been pinged during the trip but messages can wait, the trip is very spectacular.

After we arrived and unpacked I saw my cellphone. The message was from the Australian Health Authority. “Someone at the screening Amber light has been diagnosed with Covid-19. You must be isolated for 14 days. ”

I think back to film. How friends from Melbourne’s best bars appear. Hugs, back slaps, clanking glasses. Contract. Everything is now isolated, losing money. Then the realization that I was on a plane, then at an event with several thousand people. More handshakes and hugs. What did I do? Ruined business. My family … I will endanger them, destroy their vacation. Then paranoia. Does my throat hurt, do I get hot, do I have a tight chest?

We were allowed to move to a friend’s farm where I could isolate myself in an outdoor hut. A wave of the corona is heading towards us, but we can’t leave until the isolation is over. There is no choice but to wait. Fortunately, none of us at the screening experienced any symptoms and fortunately my family didn’t either. Nearly two weeks, it’s time to cut our losses and return to England. Then the day before we flew to Melbourne to catch a flight home, Australia closed its border. If we leave, we will be isolated for 14 days there.

The airlines don’t answer their calls. The British Embassy in New Zealand has been closed. So we called a travel agent in the UK and booked the first flight from Auckland via Hong Kong. But once we arrived in Auckland, Hong Kong closed its borders. The day after, New Zealand will impose a hard lock.


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