The Islamic republic of Pakistan has won the distinction of producing the Muslim world's first 20-year-old malt whisky.The Murree Brewery in Rawalpindi, founded in 1860 to make ale and spirits for soldiers during the British Raj, is the only producer of whisky and beer in a constitutionally Muslim country.
Despite a torrid history in which it has been burnt down by Muslim protesters and temporarily shut down in an Islamist purge, the Murree brewery has survived against the odds and has previously produced celebrated eight and 12-year-old single malts.
"Few distilleries in the world, even the high-end ones in Scotland, produce 20-year-old malts," said Minnoo Bhandara, the Parsee businessman whose family has run the brewery since the creation of Pakistan at the partition of British India in 1947.....the brewery has officially been catering for the three per cent of Pakistan's population that comprises of the non-Muslim communities of Christians, Hindus and those of Mr Bhandara's Zoroastrian faith.
However, the ingenuity of thirsty Pakistanis means that rather a lot of the 660,000 gallons of beer that Murree produces every year and the 110,000 gallons of whisky that is stored in its cellars reaches a Muslim clientele.
"I think 99 per cent of my customers are Muslim," said Mr Bhandara, who is an Oxford-educated MP.
The official punishment sanctioned by the Koran of 80 lashes with an oil-soaked whip has never been applied.