Raw Spirit

Iain Banks

I like a lot of Iain Banks's books - and those by Iain M. Banks, come to that.  Enough to name two of them in my top ten favourites.  But although I'd vaguely heard that he'd written a book about whisky, I'd never felt the urge to find it.  I'm not entirely sure why, but I think it's mostly to do with the fact that I can't stand whisky and cannot even understand the appeal.  So what would a book about something I'm not vaguely interested in do for me?  Still, £1.40 in a charity shop and it was mine - I'm a sucker for a cheap book.

And it was very interesting.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.  Along with, I'm sure, many other non-football fans, I really enjoyed Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch despite knowing little and caring less about the game.  A good writer can really animate a subject, and no-one's doubting Iain Banks is a superb author.  After reading about the complexities involved in producing the stuff and the varieties available, I'm  definitely wondering about trying some of the whiskies named in the book.  Maybe I've just never had a good one.

It's not just about whisky though - there's plenty of personal history in there, most of it pretty entertaining.  The book does start to drag towards the end, but there's plenty to enjoy before that.  It doesn't answer one question though: he was commissioned to write a book about whisky, and presumably by a person or organisation connected with the industry.  But who?

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