Michael Jackson: obituary

  • Wednesday 12 September 2007

Beer and whisky fans are raising a glass to Michael Jackson, prolific writer and broadcaster, who died on August 30 of a heart attack.

Jackson, who trained as a reporter at the Huddersfield Examiner, ultimately found his true calling in supporting quality beer and whisky. He took his cue from the increasing popularity of wine writing, and promoted his favourite beverages as cultural phenomena, with a relationship to history, gastronomy and travel.

From The English Pub (1976) to the World Guide to Beer (1977) to the best selling Malt Whisky Companion (1989), his numerous books sold over 3m copies in 18 languages.

Jackson’s TV series - The Beer Hunter – has been broadcast in 15 countries, and he won numerous awards, including three Gold Tankards from the British Guild of Beer Writers, and five Glenfiddich Awards. In 1997 he became the first non-brewer to be inducted into the Belgian Confédération des Brasseries de Belgique.

Tributes are coming in from friends and colleagues around the world.

‘Michael had not one jot of super star status,’ said Annabel Meikle, Brand Ambassador for Glenmorangie, who met Jackson when she was working for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. ‘He was quiet, gentle and approachable.’

‘His knowledge of whisky was, of course, phenomenal. And yet he wasn't showy with his knowledge, he managed to communicate the subject in a relevant way to his audience. His editorial work was quirky and spritely often regaling tales of his travels. He leaves a huge gap.’

Jackson’s grandfather, Chaim Jakowitz, was a Lithuanian Jew who immigrated to Leeds. His father anglicised the family name to Jackson.

He is survived by his partner, Paddy Gunningham, and a stepdaughter.

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