Michael Jackson - March 27, 1942 - August 30, 2007
This morning, the world lost its most distinguished and prolific authority on beer and whiskey. Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter, The Whiskey Chaser, Maven of Malt, and White Rose of Yorkshire, passed away today, August 30, 2007 at approximately 9:30 a.m. BST during his morning routine in his home in London, England. Author of more than a dozen books, he brought beer onto the table and into the hearts of millions of people worldwide. He was the leading authority on beer and whiskey in the world, and made it his life’s work to identify and describe distinctiveness among the symphony of styles being crafted by artisans in every corner of the globe.
He had an extraordinary connectedness with people – for him, cementing friendships was as important as breathing. He had a generous spirit, one that could only be halted by the Maker’s hand. His mind was brilliant, and his tenacity, unbounded. Despite his struggle with Parkinson’s Disease, complicated with Diabetes, he refused to miss a step, even when his medication failed him, as it sometimes did. Journalism sustained him, while his many appearances infused him with an adrenaline that added a spring to his step and a sparkle to his blue eyes. He had a robust laughter, one that I was privileged to hear on a daily basis. He loved jazz, particularly “I Can’t Get Started,” by Lady Day & Prez (Billie Holliday & Lester Young), whom he called the “most poignant musicians of all time.” He also loved Ben Webster's “Tangerine,", Roberta Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” and “Alright, Okay, You Win” with Count Basie and Joe Williams.
...and rugby league...not union..."League."
As recently as May 8, 2006, he received the prestigious James Beard Award in the Wine and Spirits Division for his book “Whiskey: The Definitive World Guide,” an honour which was very dear to him.
He has won the Andre Simon Award; the Glenfiddich Trophy; several Glenfiddich Awards for his numerous books, journalistic columns, and television appearances; the Gold Tankard of the British Guild of Beer Writers; awards as “Columnist of the Year”, for his CD-ROMs, and for countless historical pieces from the North American Guild of Beer Writers. He was an Officer of Honour in the Chevalerie de Fourquet and Master of the Quaich in the Scotch whisky connoisseurs’ society, Keepers of the Quaich. His book, The Great Beers of Belgium, first published in 1991, combined with his television series, The Beer Hunter, earned the Mercurius Award, presented to Jackson in 1994 by Crown Prince Phillippe of Belgium.
He was well loved in the United States of America, and loved the US as much as his own England. He was the first recipient of the Brewers Association Recognition Award in 1987 and the Achievement Award of the Institute for Fermentation Studies. He was a Consultant Editor to Beer Passion Magazine in Belgium, and had contributed to the Journal du Brasseur, Biere, Pint, What’s Brewing, Malt Advocate, All About Beer, Ale Street News, Celebrator Beer News, and magazines on food and drink throughout the world. He has written for Playboy, Esquire, GQ, Geo, National Geographic, Travel & Leisure, Traveler, Food and Wine, and Wine Spectator.
His newspaper columns have appeared throughout England in The Independent and The Observer, and in The Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and more. He was the speaker at the first beer-matching dinner in the United States in the mid 1980s at the Pierre Hotel, New York, prepared by four Belgian chefs. For 18 years, he appeared annually at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology in Philadelphia, presenting his unforgettable beer tastings and professionally orchestrated dinners. He has also presented dinners at Monk’s Café in Philadelphia and lectured at the Culinary Institute of America, Cornell University, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, and the Cambridge Union, and has spoken at the Belgian Consulate in New York, and the Belgian Embassy in Tokyo.
He was an active member of the Slow Food Movement, having been introduced to it by the enthusiasm of Charlie Papazian of the Brewers Association. He hosted scores of beer and whisky workshops at the Slow Food biennale, The Salon del Gusto, in Turin, Italy.
He will be greatly missed...