Smooth operator

A canny expat South African is living his dream with a store dedicated to an aged but increasingly popular spirit.

Ask David Ligoff to name five great whiskies under $100 and he doesn't hesitate. ''Glenmorangie Original, Balvenie Doublewood, Ardbeg Ten Year Old, Macallan Sherry Finish Ten Year Old and Glenlivet 12 Year Old,'' he says, the names rolling off his tongue as smoothly as a Scotsman giving directions to the nearest distillery.

There are more than 100 distilleries in Scotland and about 1000 whisky varieties worldwide, including Canada, the US, Australia, Ireland, Wales and, no kidding, India (Amrut Fusion from Bangalore ranks highly in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2011).

Murray's two best in the world are Ballantine's 17 Year Old from Scotland and Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye from the US. They are all at Ligoff's Double Bay store, World of Whisky, along with 300 others.

To simplify matters, Ligoff classifies them according to flavour profile. At one end of the spectrum are the light and floral whiskies; at the other end are the full and smoky ones. In between, there are rich and round, fruity and spicy drops, some with dry finishes, others that end on a fiery note.

So Ligoff's first question when you walk into his store is: what do you usually drink? If you've never drunk whisky, he'll head to the shelves of lighter single malts that have a sherry or port finish and are slightly sweet. If you've already sampled scotch, he'll steer you to the tasting table where he keeps a dozen bottles open and at the ready.

About 70 per cent of World of Whisky's customers are the new whisky wave, aged between 25 and 40. They are keen to learn and have been coming in for tastings, food matching and gift-buying since Ligoff and his fellow directors, Ivan Myers and Larry Aronson, opened their shop last September.

So far, World of Whisky's biggest selling brands are Tullibardine, Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. The most expensive bottle in store is a hand-made Baccarat flacon housing The John Walker, a blend of six single malts and a grain, costing $5450 each. Ten bottles of the limited edition of 330 reached Australia late last year and Ligoff has already sold five.

Born in Johannesburg, Ligoff is an electrical engineer who went into IT after he migrated to Australia. One day, on a bushwalk, his son asked him what he would do if he had his way. Ligoff found himself saying, ''open a whisky store''.

He had tried a few whiskies and, when travelling, had noticed how many brands were sold overseas in duty-free stores and weren't available in Australia.


The shop is dedicated to providing everyday, social drinking as well as special-occasion drops, what he calls ''drinking with intent''. That means you can start with a Speyside sherry-influenced Glenfarclas and work your way up to a seriously peaty Caol Illa from Islay - and still have hundreds of experiences to try.


Shop G12, Cosmopolitan Centre, 2-22 Knox Street, Double Bay, 9363 4212.

Mon-Wed and Fri, 9am-5.30pm; Thu, 9am-9pm; Sat, 9am-4pm; Sun, 10am-4pm.

Best buys

Glen Albyn 1975 (bottled 2010) $275 for 700ml.

Amrut Fusion Single Malt (India) $132 for 700ml.

Glenmorangie Original 10-year-old $82 for 700ml.