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Monday, 1 April 2013

Escape To Victory... An Incredible Death Defying Attempt

We're big fans of death-defying and cunning stunts at Caskstrength. But sadly, as our recent trip to Talisker Distillery (more on this later this week) confirmed, we're pretty rubbish at anything that remotely resembles the merest hint of danger.  Just sitting in a rubber dinghy on route to the jetty in front of the distillery was about as pant-wettingly terrifying as it gets for us, especially when you watch helplessly as a man hauls your laptop case with a dodgy catch up the 30-foot ladder on a precariously tied rope.

So when we heard the news that an actual-proper-death-defying-cunning-stunt was to happen at another distillery next week, we felt compelled to write about it, from the safety of our front room.

The popularity of TV escapologists has increased tenfold over the past few years thanks to the sterling work of the likes of David Blaine, The Incredible Mr Goodwin and El Fatisimo, the larger than life Mexican escapologist, who blazed a trail by eating his way out of a massive fruit loaf, whilst actually being baked alive on Mexican TV.  He survived, but not without suffering severe indigestion and a slightly singed cape. What is it that compels these modern day icons to risk everything in such incredibly treacherous circumstances?  Money, fame, girls and of course, the product endorsements.

El Fatisimo was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for his audacious eating stunt and also claimed the bragging rights to literally hundreds of scantily clad groupies.  But according to the escapologist's management, the real reason was the truckloads of Soreen fruit loaves delivered on a daily basis to his waterfront apartment.

This was the very motivation that Jean Rholoris needed when planning his next escapology assignment. And next wednesday, the world will be watching one particular distillery in Speyside very closely - waiting, wondering, hoping and praying that his unprecedented stunt will bloody well come off.

Rholoris is well known on the escapologist scene, but not because of his success rate.  On the contrary, he is perhaps more well known for being one of the worst escapologists in the history of the profession.  David Braine is well documented in his criticism of Rholoris, saying recently that '(he) couldn't eat his way out of a chocolate straitjacket', evening going as far to condemn his failed attempts as 'nothing more than internet sensationalism.'

Many would crumble under such criticism, but Jean Rholoris is clearly made of tougher stuff- (indeed, more than a chocolate straitjacket.)

His latest attempt will see him decamp to the ever publicity-hungry GlenBridge Distillery for a feat so death-defying, (and some would say foolish) that even his knockers have pricked up their ears.

As a lifelong lover of single malt whisky, Rholoris was drawn to the idea of the synergy between the spirit and the oak casks used in its production.  'To the untrained eye, each cask could be seen as a dank, depressing, woody prison for this free-wheeling spirit,' said Rholoris, 'but I see them as a challenge.  Each year, like in my favourite film 'The Great Escape', a small amount of spirit successfully escapes its oaky confines and this has inspired me to have a go too.'  

After making the necessary arrangements with Malcolm MacMichaels, distillery manager at GlenBridge, a special 650 litre cask has been commissioned for the escape attempt.  Rholoris has insisted that the cask be seasoned with the finest Canadian Ginger Ale first, as any dryness in the staves could prove fatal.  Once Rholoris is securely manacled inside, the cask will be filled with 65.3% ABV new make spirit distilled in the traditional column stills used at the GlenBridge distillery and the cask hoisted to the regulation 16.3 ft in the distillery's traditional dunnage warehouse - the optimum height for maturation/escapism.

Adjudicating body for the Scotch whisky business the SWA have stipulated that without breathing apparatus, Rholoris will have no more than three minutes and one second to make his escape, to legitimately be recognised as victorious.

An artist's impression of Jean Rholoris
before his death-defying stunt
Even David Braine has given Rholoris his support, despite his reservations.  'Yes, he's a rubbish escapologist, but you can't fault the man for trying something fresh, vibrant and crowd pleasing,' he pointed out.  But he also revealed  'I had several conversations with him last week, pleading with him to abandon the idea of having the cask set on fire during the attempt, which is just downright stupid.'

As Jean Rholoris goes through the final preparation stages (immersing himself in his bath at home, full of whisky) one can't help but feel a sense of camaraderie for this brave individual. If he succeeds, his name will no doubt become legendary - not only just in the whisky business.  But controversially, if he fails, succumbing to his spirity confines, all is not lost. GlenBridge have said they plan to release a limited edition bottling from the contents of the single cask, regardless of the success of the stunt or not, thus sealing the escapologist's fate either way and securing his place on the many lucrative whisky auction sites around the globe.

So wherever you happen to be next Wednesday at 2pm, stop for a second and give Jean Rholoris your thoughts and prayers and perhaps raise a glass of something special to the sporting endeavours of this remarkable (if slightly mad) character.