Next, to other culinary delights, the Austrian author Michael Sumper is in particularly taken by whiskey. It is therefore not surprising that liquid gold also plays a vital role in the 3rd part of his Scottish trilogy.

Michael Sumper has provided PonderingTime with an excerpt from the last part of his trilogy. So, let us arouse your curiosity about the novel “Todeshauch” at this point:

  

“This is an old German military bunker from the Second World War,” the owner explained his house to the astonished guests. It still goes four floors down, but I don’t want to torture you with steps again.” He said with a mischievous look towards McBurn. You can believe me, we’ve made ourselves comfortable here for a long time. Even the Germans had little fun with this edifice. Only a very, very brief joy, I can assure you. “May I offer you a whiskey? A truly proficient Scotish water of life. I rarely have it here in the house.”

“I’d love that very much, Antonio, but I didn’t expect that!”

He tapped on the wall of books that silently glided to the side. Behind it stood an ancient altar, lit up with indirect lighting, filled with the most expensive of golden whiskeys. The entrants were utterly amazed and surprised. All known and unknown varieties of Highland delicacies stood there in line and file, all well lit. McBurn even saw some, that were already among the absolute rarities in Scotland.

“Antonio, Antonio, you look at me stunned.”

“It makes me very happy when someone appreciates my passion for collecting. I think that collecting stamps can be beautiful and enriching, but I prefer my passion,” he said with a slight smile. “What may I offer you, gentlemen?”

We leave it to you, to surprise us,” it came from Salvo.

“Well, I’m surprised already, what else can follow?” McBurn’s tried to keep his enthusiasm down.

“We’ll take the one for the extraordinary occasions.” He took three thin cognac glasses and carefully placed them on the table. Then he opened the tabernacle of the altar with a small key and took out a bulbous bottle with quite dark contents. He poured a finger’s breadth of whiskey into each glass, not without first sniffing the bottle.

“Cognac glasses for whiskey?” McBurn was surprised.

“I now ask you to hold the glass with two fingers as I pretend to hold it.” He held the stem of the glass between the ring and middle finger and had his hand almost closed around the glass. “I’ll tell you a story I hope you’ll never forget.” He lifted the glass a little, and McBurn and Salvo joined in synchronously, like in ballet. “When the barley for this whiskey was cut in Scotland, the year was 1783. On 4 June, the Montgolfier brothers presented their balloon to an astonished public in their hometown of Annonay in France. At that time it was still thought that the smoke, which rises to the sky, carries the balloon. What else was going on in this Old World? The Peace of Paris ended the American War of Independence in 1783. New Hampshire wrote in its constitution that “all men are born equal and free.” Also not uninteresting in this day and age, with its new problems. Simón Bolívar was born, he is the national hero of several South American and Caribbean countries. Our whiskey began to ripen very slowly in the barrel. In 1883, after 100 years, it was finally bottled. A box of them went down with the Titanic in 1912. Today there are only two bottles left in the world. I have both”. You could hear a pin drop in the room. “Now gentlemen, have you tempered the whiskey with the warmth of your hand so that it is probably digestible. The large surface that the special glass gives to the whiskey now releases its old aromas. You can now sense and enjoy the centuries.” He sniffed over the glass and his eyes glowed transfigured. “This old whiskey is not drunk with ice or cold water. He’s too precious to me for that. Drink first a tiny sip to prepare your taste buds for the pleasure. Like the exposition as an orchestra introduction at a big concert. Then put the rest in your mouth, stay for a moment, let the whiskey stay in your mouth on all sides of your tongue for a moment, think again about what I said and then enjoy the exit in one go.”

That’s what they both did. In the silence that followed, McBurn said, “This was by far the best whiskey tasting I’ve ever had. As a Scot, it is very hard for me to admit that.

from “Death Breath” by Michael Sumper


Michael Sumper, born on 12th of April 1953 in Villach/Austria. After the unnecessary state HTL school, in the following school of life always up front, first in class. With 18 years already on the way to Sudan, active as an artist. During his Service as a UN soldier in Cyprus awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, together with all other UN soldiers of that time. Travel becomes a leisure activity. After a few detours, he ended up working for the Austrian Federal Railway (ÖBB). Later chairman of the ÖBB cultural association with seminar leadership and exhibitions in Finland, Venice, Frankfurt, Vienna and Slovenia. Over and again trips to India and Srilanka, Morocco, Scotland and Canada. Initiator of a foundation that has been supporting children in Sri Lanka for 20 years. His journeys are recorded in books. For 30 years owner of a catamaran in which we crossed the Atlantic in twos and spent 3 years in the Caribbean. Now back in Europe. Lives in Aquileia near Grado and Villach.