edge

​Married to Single Malt

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is John Morgan and I spend WAY too much on single malt whisky.

I most definitely come from “around the savannah”. Not “the West”. Not Maraval.

I have three siblings, a small family when I was growing up – some friends’ families had nine kids! I feel I have got it right with three kids of my own: small enough to control; big enough to be chaotic.

We lost our aging mother to cancer a few years ago but her presence – and absence – is still a part of us. I would tell you how old she was but then two ghostly clouts would materialize: one for me, for revealing her age; one for BC Pires for asking about it. My 91-year-old dad lives in England and we call him every week.

I would advise everyone to have a good connection between the people who share your genes: your kids, parents and siblings. It is one of the most rewarding things one can do in life. Even better with the soulmate you deposit those genes with.

I spent childhood, adolescence and adulthood around the Savannah. I was born at Park’s Nursing Nome and still live less than a mile away. I think the majority of people on this planet are like this.

I went to Holy Family Private School on Frederick Street – I was in class the day they hanged Michael Abdul Malik. Then Maria Regina, then Saints.The teachers’ strike meant school at CIC was a cup of chips from Aleong’s at 7.15 and then back home for the rest of the day. Even I, as a teenager, knew this was not right. So I went to a very pukka English boarding school called Haileybury. I still have a handful of friends from each institution in my daily life!

I read Philosophy at King’s University London but I don’t think that predisposed me to single malt scotch over Carib or Stag. Philosophy and single malt were some 20 years apart! It was more like, in my 40s, I thought I should advance my ability to smell!

After ten years in the UK, my plan was to come to Trinidad for six months and then sprint back to London. I woke up that first morning. The sun streamed in. The pink Pouis were in full bloom outside. Nah, that was it for London.

The Savannah was a great place to explore. Football in the rain was really mud-sliding. Discovering the drain under the road from the Hollows to Wildflower Park. Going for snow cones by George, his father, his brother. Riding bicycles on the pitchwalk and getting a bouff from old man Reece.

So much of my life involves the Savannah in an indirect way. To get anywhere, driving, I have to go around it to go and to get back home. I’ve watched the Savannah change over the years from, e.g., a two-way to a one-way traffic system. I know what potholes get paved in a night, which get paved in a year.

You meet people on the Savannah you don’t know but, when you’ve seen someone three or four times at the same time in the same place, you pluck up the courage to say hello. They then respond and, oh gosh, you’ve made a connection. We don’t all have to be best friends but we don’t have to be total strangers. It just makes life more pleasant. My son Thomas has a Savannah friend, Desmond, who he has to give a fist bounce every time.

I walk the Savannah as regularly as I can but there’s way too much carbon monoxide on the Savannah now so I head for Lady Chancellor Road. People who walk Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayChancellor are definitely friendlier than people on the Savannah. Maybe it’s because you engage with them for longer, because you can see them coming downhill while you’re walking up. Wishing you could exchange places with them right away.

My youngest child, Thomas, accidentally activated our [Amazon] Alexa to play Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law. And I thought, “These children are growing up so well!”

Our family has been in “de flim business” since the late 1930s and I am still connected. One of the tell tale signs you are watching a digital film is that there are no white spots in the top right corner every 20 minutes to indicate to the projectionist that it’s time for a reel change. When I first started dating my future wife, Crista, she was suitably impressed with free popcorn but hated me interrupting her viewing every 20 minutes with, “Yuh see? Look de spots!”

Stanley Kubrick is cool as a director and so is Ingmar Bergman – and, yes, I did found the European Film Festival in Port of Spain – but, no I am not the guy who shows off his knowledge of weird Swedish films. For me, the Matrix and Lord of the Rings ruined every other movie ever made. See them and you have seen everything. The best movie ever was Billy Wilder’s How to Steal a Million, with my two all-time favourite stars, Peter O Toole and Audrey Hepburn. I love cheap romance movies and I am fascinated by the emerging genre of African-American films directed by the likes of Tyler Perry.

I was brought up Roman Catholic and my continuing faith (with a common eff) is not blind but more spiritual. Yes bad things happen to good people – but so do good things! Better to look at this life in a positive way because it will be over before you know it!

An afterlife only matters if you have any memory of this one. Would you care if you came back a caliph or a crapaud if you couldn’t remember this life? Funny thing is, you don’t actually know the second you are dead. You could have some lead-up time, perhaps, but the actual second of death, you are just gone. I prefer to take my odds on this life than fail at making the most of it.

Now I have an Alexa I like the music that gets me moving: Dire Straits; Rush and now rediscovering the Rolling Stones. And all 70s music especially Motown. I am also really into classical music but struggle with jazz. My three kids Tristan, Tessa and Thomas are air-guitar and pot-spoon microphone specialists.

I was a big reader and then stopped and have started again. I’m now reading any book about fish. Just finished Jaws and just started Moby Dick and next will be a re-read of George Orwell’s Inside the Whale. Orwell’s probably my favourite writer, especially now I have been on that remote Scottish island of Jura, where he wrote 1984.

T1 – my 15-year-old son, Tristan – is really into music and plays the bass guitar. One day, while blasting Black Sabbath, he told me he wanted to learn how to make mustard. I think my work as a father is done.

I am too lazy to get up and exercise. I’m just not gonna waste any time watching sport.

I have so planned my last day menu: cow heel soup – hold the soup and everything else in the bowl. Black pudding by the pound heavily sautéed in butter. Lobster tails – hold all them complicated legs and claws. Salt-fish with pepper sauce. Aloo pie with channa and everything lurking in those plastic buckets. Julie mangoes – not starch to get stuck up in your teeth or Graham or Lady’s Nose that only make you wish you had a Julie. To drink: funnily, no alcohol. A Cokes or a grape Solo, with ice. Okay, maybe a Bunnahabhain or Clynleish malt whisky. But, above all, a gallon of fresh, full cream milk. After all, it’s my death day: shouldn’t my last drink be my first drink?

I was a Carib man, sometimes a Corona with lime man, but never spirits after that first fateful CIC Mayfair with a bottle of Vat 19. The journey through whisky continues to be exciting…the parts I remember! I taught myself what I know about single malt from listening to podcasts or watching videos or tastings with my pseudo expert friends, Jevan and Alfredo. I’m not a professional taster but I know at thing or two. Spend a few hours with me to get the gist…Then go spend a lifetime enjoying the stuff.

Drinking rum would have saved me quite a few bucks. Had I known… But then, at least I did not stray into cognacs.


The excitement and passion for single malt whiskey can translate across many subjects: rum; chocolate; fine dining; cigars. To experience anything fully, you have to learn the language it speaks and develop the tools needed to recognise nuance.
Otherwise the whole thing is lost on you. Single malt is a foreign drink to the Caribbean and the language used to describe it sounds so foreign: damson fruit; oak; wheat; malt; peat; these aren’t things we’re used to. So I try to apply the rich descriptors we have in the Caribbean to single malt. I use coconut a lot because we know so many varieties of it: desiccated coconut; shredded coconut; the coconut you stole from your mother’s kitchen counter when she was making Sunday calaloo; Chinee coconut from the vendor’s van ‘round the Savannah, water coconut; jelly coconut; coconut husk left out in the sun for a day compared to coconut husk that’s been on a beach for a month. All these give off different smells and we know their nuances and all can be applied to describe single malts.


When you get into something, there is a specific way you have to do it, in order to get the maximum out of it.
If you lob a bunch of soft drinks into your whiskey, you’re not going to get to nuances of smell and taste. It’s not that having a mixer is a bad thing but that you have to go for the heart of the thing itself. If you have a goat roti with it, you’re just not going to appreciate the flavour of a fine bottle of wine.

If someone asks for, say, a [peaty, smoky single malt] Talisker-and-Coke, it’s a waste of the spirits. The probability is the person never tasted the Talisker it on its own. Now drinking is for drinking and there’s no right way or wrong way – but there is an inappropriate way. If you appreciate what Talisker is and you consciously decide it will go better with Coke, that’s fine. I know some single malt connoisseurs in India who drink their single malts with tea and don’t miss a tasting note because they find the tea helps bring out the single malt taste for them. But, mostly, Talisker-and-Coke is just wasting the Talisker.

Single malt scotch is not a very healthy or practical hobby. You have to have a liver test twice yearly and know when to take a month off.


The best thing about spending way too much on single malt whiskey is that it’s cheaper than an outside woman.
The worst is that it’s cheaper than an outside woman.

A Trini can see situations develop before anyone else and then influence the outcome for sport! Don’t play all-fours with a Trini unless you are prepared to get more than your Jack hung!

I am not really a nationalist and I don’t feel mushy inside when I hear the anthem. But this little rock is my home and it’s the place I know and understand. Yes, there are lots of reasons to exit and lots to stay but, darn, I still love looking out the window when I land at Piarco!

​Married to Single Malt

Picture courtesy Mark Lyndersay

Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayMy name is John Morgan and I spend WAY too much on single malt whisky.

I most definitely come from “around the savannah”. Not “the West”. Not Maraval.

I have three siblings, a small family when I was growing up – some friends’ families had nine kids! I feel I have got it right with three kids of my own: small enough to control; big enough to be chaotic.

We lost our aging mother to cancer a few years ago but her presence – and absence – is still a part of us. I would tell you how old she was but then two ghostly clouts would materialize: one for me, for revealing her age; one for BC Pires for asking about it. My 91-year-old dad lives in England and we call him every week.

I would advise everyone to have a good connection between the people who share your genes: your kids, parents and siblings. It is one of the most rewarding things one can do in life. Even better with the soulmate you deposit those genes with.

I spent childhood, adolescence and adulthood around the Savannah. I was born at Park’s Nursing Nome and still live less than a mile away. I think the majority of people on this planet are like this.

I went to Holy Family Private School on Frederick Street – I was in class the day they hanged Michael Abdul Malik. Then Maria Regina, then Saints.The teachers’ strike meant school at CIC was a cup of chips from Aleong’s at 7.15 and then back home for the rest of the day. Even I, as a teenager, knew this was not right. So I went to a very pukka English boarding school called Haileybury. I still have a handful of friends from each institution in my daily life!

I read Philosophy at King’s University London but I don’t think that predisposed me to single malt scotch over Carib or Stag. Philosophy and single malt were some 20 years apart! It was more like, in my 40s, I thought I should advance my ability to smell!

After ten years in the UK, my plan was to come to Trinidad for six months and then sprint back to London. I woke up that first morning. The sun streamed in. The pink Pouis were in full bloom outside. Nah, that was it for London.

The Savannah was a great place to explore. Football in the rain was really mud-sliding. Discovering the drain under the road from the Hollows to Wildflower Park. Going for snow cones by George, his father, his brother. Riding bicycles on the pitchwalk and getting a bouff from old man Reece.

So much of my life involves the Savannah in an indirect way. To get anywhere, driving, I have to go around it to go and to get back home. I’ve watched the Savannah change over the years from, e.g., a two-way to a one-way traffic system. I know what potholes get paved in a night, which get paved in a year.

You meet people on the Savannah you don’t know but, when you’ve seen someone three or four times at the same time in the same place, you pluck up the courage to say hello. They then respond and, oh gosh, you’ve made a connection. We don’t all have to be best friends but we don’t have to be total strangers. It just makes life more pleasant. My son Thomas has a Savannah friend, Desmond, who he has to give a fist bounce every time.

I walk the Savannah as regularly as I can but there’s way too much carbon monoxide on the Savannah now so I head for Lady Chancellor Road. People who walk Picture courtesy Mark LyndersayChancellor are definitely friendlier than people on the Savannah. Maybe it’s because you engage with them for longer, because you can see them coming downhill while you’re walking up. Wishing you could exchange places with them right away.

My youngest child, Thomas, accidentally activated our [Amazon] Alexa to play Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law. And I thought, “These children are growing up so well!”

Our family has been in “de flim business” since the late 1930s and I am still connected. One of the tell tale signs you are watching a digital film is that there are no white spots in the top right corner every 20 minutes to indicate to the projectionist that it’s time for a reel change. When I first started dating my future wife, Crista, she was suitably impressed with free popcorn but hated me interrupting her viewing every 20 minutes with, “Yuh see? Look de spots!”

Stanley Kubrick is cool as a director and so is Ingmar Bergman – and, yes, I did found the European Film Festival in Port of Spain – but, no I am not the guy who shows off his knowledge of weird Swedish films. For me, the Matrix and Lord of the Rings ruined every other movie ever made. See them and you have seen everything. The best movie ever was Billy Wilder’s How to Steal a Million, with my two all-time favourite stars, Peter O Toole and Audrey Hepburn. I love cheap romance movies and I am fascinated by the emerging genre of African-American films directed by the likes of Tyler Perry.

I was brought up Roman Catholic and my continuing faith (with a common eff) is not blind but more spiritual. Yes bad things happen to good people – but so do good things! Better to look at this life in a positive way because it will be over before you know it!

An afterlife only matters if you have any memory of this one. Would you care if you came back a caliph or a crapaud if you couldn’t remember this life? Funny thing is, you don’t actually know the second you are dead. You could have some lead-up time, perhaps, but the actual second of death, you are just gone. I prefer to take my odds on this life than fail at making the most of it.

Now I have an Alexa I like the music that gets me moving: Dire Straits; Rush and now rediscovering the Rolling Stones. And all 70s music especially Motown. I am also really into classical music but struggle with jazz. My three kids Tristan, Tessa and Thomas are air-guitar and pot-spoon microphone specialists.

I was a big reader and then stopped and have started again. I’m now reading any book about fish. Just finished Jaws and just started Moby Dick and next will be a re-read of George Orwell’s Inside the Whale. Orwell’s probably my favourite writer, especially now I have been on that remote Scottish island of Jura, where he wrote 1984.

T1 – my 15-year-old son, Tristan – is really into music and plays the bass guitar. One day, while blasting Black Sabbath, he told me he wanted to learn how to make mustard. I think my work as a father is done.

I am too lazy to get up and exercise. I’m just not gonna waste any time watching sport.

I have so planned my last day menu: cow heel soup – hold the soup and everything else in the bowl. Black pudding by the pound heavily sautéed in butter. Lobster tails – hold all them complicated legs and claws. Salt-fish with pepper sauce. Aloo pie with channa and everything lurking in those plastic buckets. Julie mangoes – not starch to get stuck up in your teeth or Graham or Lady’s Nose that only make you wish you had a Julie. To drink: funnily, no alcohol. A Cokes or a grape Solo, with ice. Okay, maybe a Bunnahabhain or Clynleish malt whisky. But, above all, a gallon of fresh, full cream milk. After all, it’s my death day: shouldn’t my last drink be my first drink?

I was a Carib man, sometimes a Corona with lime man, but never spirits after that first fateful CIC Mayfair with a bottle of Vat 19. The journey through whisky continues to be exciting…the parts I remember! I taught myself what I know about single malt from listening to podcasts or watching videos or tastings with my pseudo expert friends, Jevan and Alfredo. I’m not a professional taster but I know at thing or two. Spend a few hours with me to get the gist…Then go spend a lifetime enjoying the stuff.

Drinking rum would have saved me quite a few bucks. Had I known… But then, at least I did not stray into cognacs.


The excitement and passion for single malt whiskey can translate across many subjects: rum; chocolate; fine dining; cigars. To experience anything fully, you have to learn the language it speaks and develop the tools needed to recognise nuance.
Otherwise the whole thing is lost on you. Single malt is a foreign drink to the Caribbean and the language used to describe it sounds so foreign: damson fruit; oak; wheat; malt; peat; these aren’t things we’re used to. So I try to apply the rich descriptors we have in the Caribbean to single malt. I use coconut a lot because we know so many varieties of it: desiccated coconut; shredded coconut; the coconut you stole from your mother’s kitchen counter when she was making Sunday calaloo; Chinee coconut from the vendor’s van ‘round the Savannah, water coconut; jelly coconut; coconut husk left out in the sun for a day compared to coconut husk that’s been on a beach for a month. All these give off different smells and we know their nuances and all can be applied to describe single malts.


When you get into something, there is a specific way you have to do it, in order to get the maximum out of it.
If you lob a bunch of soft drinks into your whiskey, you’re not going to get to nuances of smell and taste. It’s not that having a mixer is a bad thing but that you have to go for the heart of the thing itself. If you have a goat roti with it, you’re just not going to appreciate the flavour of a fine bottle of wine.

If someone asks for, say, a [peaty, smoky single malt] Talisker-and-Coke, it’s a waste of the spirits. The probability is the person never tasted the Talisker it on its own. Now drinking is for drinking and there’s no right way or wrong way – but there is an inappropriate way. If you appreciate what Talisker is and you consciously decide it will go better with Coke, that’s fine. I know some single malt connoisseurs in India who drink their single malts with tea and don’t miss a tasting note because they find the tea helps bring out the single malt taste for them. But, mostly, Talisker-and-Coke is just wasting the Talisker.

Single malt scotch is not a very healthy or practical hobby. You have to have a liver test twice yearly and know when to take a month off.


The best thing about spending way too much on single malt whiskey is that it’s cheaper than an outside woman.
The worst is that it’s cheaper than an outside woman.

A Trini can see situations develop before anyone else and then influence the outcome for sport! Don’t play all-fours with a Trini unless you are prepared to get more than your Jack hung!

I am not really a nationalist and I don’t feel mushy inside when I hear the anthem. But this little rock is my home and it’s the place I know and understand. Yes, there are lots of reasons to exit and lots to stay but, darn, I still love looking out the window when I land at Piarco!