02 April 2006

Raw Spirit by Iain Banks

A strange kind of travel book, Banks is commissioned to travel to distilleries all over Scotland in search of the best malt whisky. Begins kind of annoyingly as he rubs this "job" in the reader's face a little much. However, I guess it's understandable that he'd be so pleased.

Anyway, he then sets off with a variety of freinds and vehicles to explore the distilleries. The book ends up being as much about driving arond Scotland as it is about whisky. Banks is a pleasantly chatty writer for the subject and this isn't really a problem. He puts in a lot of small autobiographical asides and comments on the invasion of Iraq that was occurring as he wrote the book. These pull you out of the narrative a little, but they also give you an interesting insight into Banks himself.

There's not very much on the details of making whisky, nor even on tasting notes. He does, of course, describe the malts that he drinks. The descriptions are just not that formal - more like the discussion you might have with people as you drink the stuff. This is probably better than the more formal type, in the end.

A good read, especially if you feel you need an excuse to buy some malt whisky or travel to Scotland.
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