Jackson Biko, is a lover of whisky and people watching. He likes to walk the shadows of the city at dusk, picking conversations of a people spurred by the night and by their drink
I get a gift from a Pernod Ricard. A 25-year old Chivas Regal. It comes in this stately case of purple denoting royalty. It looks like something that should belong in a museum. Something that should be kept for the next generation. So I take it home and place it up on my “Wall of Fame” above the kitchen windowsill (and out of reach of the kids). As I climb down my daughter asks, “Papa, what is that?” and I say what any father should say, really. “It’s a sculpture.” And she asks, “what is a sculpture?” and I say, “It’s something that is made by very artistic people.” Then before she can get to ask me what ‘artistic’ is, I disappear into the washrooms.
I once interviewed this chap, a whisky enthusiast no doubt. He said he had a very expensive bottle of single malt from Japan in his house and had only drunk about three doubles so far in the three months he’d had it. I asked if he was keeping it for the Second Coming and he replied, “No, an expensive drink like that, distilled over time by men who respect their craft isn’t something you drink after a long day. You drink it when a special moment calls for it.”
Made sense. To drink when a special moment calls for it. Not a special occasion, but a special moment. At some point some friends called me and said, “Biko, we are coming for a wedding thing in your hood, are you home?” So they passed by and I thought, “Should I crack this 25-year old for these cats? Nyet”. I cracked a 12-year old instead because the moment wasn’t special. Plus one of them owed me money and wouldn’t pay back even though he had just bought a new car. Then my brother comes over one Sunday- he’s losing his job, is scared of what will become of his future; will he get another job? How will he feed his two kids? How fast will he land another opportunity?
I cracked the 25-year old and we sat on plastic chairs in the balcony as the shadows moved further in and we had a special moment there; his defined by uncertainty and mine by being the rock he needed at that time. I lost my job once in 2009. That sucked.
The festive season is here and it’s all going to go to the shitter quickly. But even though there will be loads to eat and drink, and calories to worry about in January when you look at your belly and think, “Hello Sumo,” there are certain drinks that you just can’t indulge in on a regular. You leave them, quarter-full, and you wait with it. You wait with it for something to happen. Or for someone to happen. Because when you finally decide to pour it, you won’t just be pouring a drink, you will be pouring a moment. A special moment.
My whisky still stands after we last had it with my brother. Everytime I go to the kitchen to pour milk or warm some chapatis, I look up at it and make a small bow to Chivas Regal. Befitingly.