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Here's to a whisky haven in Argentina

AAP logoAAP 16/08/2016

Argentine Miguel Angel Reigosa is trying to amass the world's largest private whisky collection and is just 483 bottles away from exceeding the collection housed at the Whisky Museum in Edinburgh.

The time-honoured alcoholic drink, the name of which means "water of life" in Gaelic, has been Reigosa's passion since he was 14, after a bad experience with a mixed drink and a memorable lecture from his father, from whom he also inherited his love of collecting.

"I began at 14 and I've never lost the passion. The only drink I consume is whisky, (except for) sometimes a little beer, and in a country like ... Argentina, not to drink wine sometimes is a sin, but I really don't drink wine," he told EFE.

Starting his collecting career while a teen, he first started buying miniature bottles, then exclusive brands and - in working to promote the beverage through the Whisky Malt Argentina association, which gathers together 4100 whisky lovers, and the Argentine Whisky Museum - he now has 2900 bottles.

Reigosa is not Scottish and has no English blood, but he does have a "fighting" spirit inculcated in him by his family, all of whom are Spanish immigrants from Galicia. And now after years of effort he has attained the respect of whisky aficionados and experts and is known as the "Whisky King" of the Southern Cone.

And in a country with little feeling for whisky, Reigosa says building his collection is "an epic accomplishment" that has given him "much satisfaction".

Among his achievements is creating a type of water especially made for preparing whisky that is now exported to Scotland and promoting 15 national festivals featuring the drink, which is distilled from malt fermented from various grains and then aged in wooden barrels.

As fate would have it, he fought against Britain in the 1982 Falklands Islands War but, years later, helped celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's birthday, at which he acquired a limited-edition bottle of whisky.

Reigosa said there were "very expensive bottles, such as some bourbons from 1830", and also three remaining "from the first trans-Atlantic flight of the Concorde which today in Argentina are worth $US60,000 ($A77,911)".

Whisky is not produced in Argentina, except for one distillery operating in the Patagonian province of Chubut for the past four years, and so working on his collection has not been easy.

The collector also hosts a television program and a magazine to spread the word about whisky and raise awareness of it through promoting responsible consumption.

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