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Despots and their favourite drinks

Throughout history despots have wielded tyrannical power over their people and their land.

Many historians have researched these despots and recorded how power has gone to their heads and impacted on their tastes.

Developing a penchant for a life of luxury while many in their country starve and struggle is just one of the aspects that can be consistent through a variety of despots.

We decided to trawl through the archives and see what drinks various despots have enjoyed. From Kim Jong-il to Mao Zedong and from Saddam Hussein to Robert Mugabe, here’s a look at despots and their favourite drink.

Kim Jong-il

The former leader of North Korea is well known for a variety of weird claims and tastes. One of the bizarre claims surrounding Kim Jong-il is that on his first-ever round of golf he shot 11 holes-in-one on his way to an incredible 38-under par. Although many in his country were starving Kim Jong-il is reported as having a love of Hennessy Cognac, spending in the region of £700,000-per-year on the drink.

Saddam Hussein

The former leader of Iraq was ruthless to many during his 14 years in power. He oversaw many conflicts including two gulf wars, before his capture in 2003. It perhaps surprising that, as a Muslim, Hussein was a drinker, but it is claimed his favourite tipple was Mateus Rosé.

Muammar Gaddafi

Gaddafi was leader of Libya from 1969 until October 2011, when civil war in his country saw him overthrown. As forces opposed to Gaddafi fought through the country one of the things they did was ransack the palaces and homes where Gaddafi had lived, uncovering the lavish lifestyle he and his family had enjoyed. Part of that lifestyle saw him indulging his love for Johnnie Walker Black Label.

Nicolae Ceaușescu

During the first decade of his rule Nicolae Ceaușescu developed an open policy towards the US and Western Europe. In the second half of his rule Ceaușescu’s regime became increasingly oppressive and brutal. Another despot who lived a life of luxury while many in his land starved, Ceaușescu enjoyed drinking Champagne and Chivas Regal.

Pol Pot

A brutal leader of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot became leader of Cambodia in 1975 and it is estimated between one and three million people died as a result of his policies. Early in his life Pot lived in Paris, where he is thought to have developed the love of red wine that he carried with him throughout his later life.

Mao Zedong

The chain-smoking architect and founding father of the People’s Republic of China led his country for over 30 years. Mao is still viewed as one of the most important figures in modern history and it is perhaps no surprise that as a staunch driver of all things Chinese his favourite drink was Maotai.

Fidel Castro

The former leader of Cuba was another communist who was a regular thorn in the side of the US. The cigar smoking leader was a fiercely nationalistic leader and so is listed as being a fan of mojitos and also Cuba Libre. It is thought, though, that he also enjoyed drinking good Scotch whisky.

Robert Mugabe

The archetypal despot, Mugabe has been the president of Zimbabwe since 1987. Since then the country has gradually slipped into decline as agricultural production has collapsed and rampant inflation has combined with food and fuel shortages. The plight of his people has not dented Mugabe’s love of the high life, for his 85th birthday he is reported to have ordered 2,000 bottles of vintage Champagne (a combination of 1961 Bollinger and Moët & Chandon) plus 500 bottles of Johnnie Walker.

Joseph Stalin

A ruthlessly tactical politician and brutal leader Stalin is reported to have given vodka to others while abstaining himself, so he could gain an advantage over those he was meeting. Not a complete non-drinker Stalin did enjoy a vodka himself, although his favourite drink is thought to have been the Georgian semi-sweet wine Khvanchkara.

Benito Mussolini

Another short despot who is reported to have many bizarre tastes, which developed during his time as Italy’s fascist leader from 1922 to 1943. It is thought that Mussolini was not a huge drinker, but his favourite tipple was a strawberry sherbet frappe, made with strawberry sherbet, Chianti and Angostura bitters.

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