Another week, another book about booze. At least, that’s what it looks like at the moment. For some reason I manage to digest a lot of media currently, varying from movies and series, books to WAY too much stuff on the internet.
This book is an oldie compared to the speed at which new whisky books are released currently. It was first printed in 2000 and contains loads, about 140 pages worth of whisky anecdotes, songs and little tidbits of history.
The marketing of whisky has changed in the 14 years since this book was first printed. Where distilleries focused a lot on their natural surroundings to sell their product, and the image of fat rich dudes in leather armchairs, it is currently very popular to use folklore, especially if it involves smuggling, illicit distilling and all kinds of other endearing criminal activities.
The drawback in that, for this particular book, is that you know most of the stories that focus on a specific distillery. The stories of Magnus Eunson staging a fake funeral to hide casks of whisky, and several others have been used a lot in recent history, so that makes you skip some pages in Whisky Wit & Wisdom.
What I didn’t really like in this book is more on a personal level. I, for some reason, can absolutely not read the lyrics of songs. It annoys me. I miss the rhythm that makes a song a song and just going over lines without them being a song makes them rather silly at best. This is the case with Lord of the Rings as well as this little bundle of very short stories.
So much for complaining. It still is a well researched book with some stories and histories in there that are rather obscure, and lots of bits that indicate that Mr. Smith has read a lot of old books on Highland life.
I preferred to read the personal histories of people instead of the more businesslike stories from Excise Men and distillers, which is in line with my current fascination with stories instead of facts.
If you like to read little shorts without too much depth, very light reading, then this is a book for you. If you want in depth looks on the cultural role whisky has played in Scotland, look elsewhere.
What helps, of course, is that you can get this book for a fiver or so, at Play.com for example.