AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)

AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) – a salutary starting-point, in case one should get carried away with what follows. Conceived by Bill ‘W’ in 1934 on a rainy night in Akron, Ohio – and who, in truth, might not succumb to strong drink on a rainy night in Akron, Ohio? – ‘the club’ now has around two million members belonging to about 100,000 groups throughout the world. Iceland has one for every 1,250 people (the highest), while Britain has the same ratio of pubs per head of population – a much more sensible idea. The ‘Twelve Steps’ – although it sounds like an Aussie Chardonnay – is in fact the core programme of the ‘fellowship’, which strives to maintain the anonymity of its adherents and encourages sober members to mentor new ones via one-to-one sponsorship. The first step requires the subject to recognise rock bottom and their powerless- ness over alcohol; the final step exhorts them to carry the message of AA to other alcoholics. Controversy surrounds the quasi-religious terminology used by the organisation and its insistence that total abstinence is the only solution; however, their results are impressive (at least they have been for a few members of my family). Aberfeldy – the flagship distillery (Highland) of Dewar’s whisky (itself owned by Bacardi and the biggest-selling Scotch whisky brand in the USA). Unusually, markets just two single malts: a twelve-yearold and a twenty-one-year-old.

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