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¹7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope

28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidan’s three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the country’s stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.


Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard – and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.


Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.


Ukrainian Culture

Whisky or Whiskey?

Be it Scottish, Irish or American, spelled “Whisky” or “Whiskey”, this amber coloured elixir is known as a standard of good taste whichever country it originates from. It’s hard to find a person who has never had a glass of Scottish Jonnie Walker, Irish Jameson or American Jack Daniel’s on this planet. What’s On takes a tipple.

While the Scotch, Irish and Americans have pretty much cornered the market when it comes to production of the spirit, other countries also brew their own versions – except Ukraine, despite locals having a taste for the drop. To investigate the whisky traditions of this country, we go to Whisky Corner where sommelier Oleh Kozlovskiy tells us a few yarns about the drink, the tastes of Ukrainian aficionados and the growth of a more refined drinking culture.

Tailored to Your Mood
February this year turned on a mixed bag of weather with snow, thaws, rain and temperatures yo-yoing between plus and minus. Despite the inclement weather, apparently there is always a tipple that suits. “In such weather I would suggest a smoky whisky with a slight iodine aroma”– Oleh says as I enter the restaurant. “Why so?” I ask him and his reply is quick. He tells me the best thing about whisky is you can easily choose the taste to suit your mood, as there are many varieties of whisky available on the market. 
Historically, whisky distilling originated in Scotland and Ireland in the 15th century, with these two nations still quarrelling over who was first. Going further back in time, Christian missionaries brought the art of distillation from the Arabic world via the medieval Latins where alcohol was distilled in monasteries for medicinal purposes. In the Gaelic world, the Scots and the Irish didn’t waste much time in finding an alternative use. The Scots soon came to call whisky by the Celtic phrase “uisce beatha” meaning “water of life”.  The Irish version states that St Patrick came to Ireland not only to convert pagans to Christianity, but also to provide them with holy water, which for some people meant whisky. 
The migration of people meant the drink would soon spread to almost every corner of the globe, including relative newcomers to brewing whisky such as Canada and Japan. According to Oleh, Japanese whisky is young and very close in taste to its Scottish forebear. Commenting on others he says: “Irish whisky has an outstanding taste only when it’s expensive and not, for example, Jameson, which can be found everywhere in Kyiv. American whisky or bourbon is pretty good too, although it’s usually a blended type. Other than that, every country has its own tradition and taste, but those who say, for example, Irish whisky is mellower than Scottish are wrong. It was just a smart marketing move in the middle of the last century, when Jameson launched an advertising campaign focusing on the soft taste of their brew.” After this, the bartender opens a bottle of Scottish whisky that has a pleasant and light aroma and compares it with something produced in Ireland with a rich peaty smell. So the myth is busted – the hardness of the brew depends on the brand. 

Whisky in Ukraine
Not whisky, but cognac became the Ukrainian hard liquor of choice and Oleh thinks that it’s all due to the nation’s psyche. “Ukrainians are a hasty nation and it’s hard for us to wait 12 years until whisky is ready. Moreover, the governmental control over spirit production makes it almost impossible to produce whisky here. However, Ukrainian whisky tastes are growing as a more sophisticated alternative to cognac.” 
In line with the Ukrainian sense of urgency is the drinking culture and locals who attempt to drink whisky in the same way they would swill vodka or cognac do so at their peril. Despite this, the sommelier has some good news for me. He says that the overall culture of alcohol in Ukraine is changing thanks to professional sommeliers and bartenders who don’t want to treat patrons with a simple whisky-coke, offering more sophisticated alternatives. “To me, mixing 12-year old Whisky with 3-day old cola is simply unacceptable”– he says with an almost indignant tone. Oleh it seems is as purist as the Scots when it comes to whisky and I guess some Whisky Corner clients have offended him in the past by ordering a whisky and coke. After all, this is a restaurant that has 36-year old Glenury Royal in stock and you can’t really argue: mixing something that costs 29,850hrv per bottle with cola does just seem wrong somehow.

• Whisky goes best with the cuisine popular in the country it was produced in
• Store bottles in a vertical position only
• Drink whisky with small sips
• The drink should be served at room temperature (approximately +22C)
• A healthy dose of whisky per day is 30–40g about equal to a glass of red wine.

The Rule of Five S’s
Sight – check its colour  
Smell – experience the aroma
Swish – take a little sip to experience the taste and aftertaste
Swallow – the first one is the best one
Splash – add some water to open the full taste

Vadym Mishkoriz

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didn’t Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Univer­sal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they don’t understand the meaning of these words.

    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street – the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades – children’s favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. What’s On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.


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