If you are drinking a single malt or a microbrew as you're reading this, then you owe a debt of thanks to English whiskey and beer writer Michael Jackson.
There is probably no one person who played more of a role in changing the way we drink than Michael Jackson. It's almost hard to remember there was a time before Michael. Prior to the publication of his first beer compendium in 1977, beer meant Bud and prior to his books on single malts, Scotch meant a low end blend. Discussions of tasting, aromas and such were reserved for wine or maybe the precious few codgers who still drank Cognac.
Michael's ceaseless advocacy for quality beers and single malts was one of the major forces in changing how we drink. Thirty years later, we have had an explosion of craft brewing that's on its second wave, and of course a new interest in single malts as well as other small batch whiskies which he championed.
MJ might not deserve sole credit for this turn of events, but he was a huge force in making it happen. His writing, with its amusing, anecdotal and curmudgeonly asides, awakened a generation to the joys of drinks with flavor. His whiskey reviews were unpretentious and real...he always told you how he felt; his descriptions willed you out to he liquor store to taste the good stuff.
Michael Jackson, who suffered from Parkinson's Disease, died today at age 65. I'm sure that throughout the world, many glasses are being raised in his honor.