Raw Spirit – Iain Banks

It’s been a while since I finished a book. The new kid being around has kept me busy and when you’re already slightly too tired for your own good, reading isn’t the thing that’s going to keep you going.

Raw Spirit by Iain Banks

Raw Spirit by Iain Banks

Anyway, I picked this up after a discussion about it on Twitter and I was lucky enough to find it on sale so including shipping from the UK, this book only cost me about € 4.00. That’s a hard cover book, and international shipping. Not sure how they do that, but the bigger whisky web shops should look into those transportation deals!

Now, the book. It’s written by the recently deceased Iain Banks who was a novelist. As far as I know this is the only non-fiction book he has written. There are articles and other publications, but no books.

Since it’s written by someone who generally writes fiction, you notice a very fluent way of writing from the start. In this case a rather witty and pun-loaded style of writing too. The strange thing is that I honestly can’t say this book is about whisky.

That’s pretty strange for a whisky book, but it’s not. It’s a book about driving through Scotland and getting paid to visit distilleries. Most chapters only mention whisky, if at all. The rest is about how nice the drive is to somewhere, what the best roads are and how much fun you can have with friends while doing a road trip. Also, it’s a book about drunken antics, the benefits of the Landrover Defender, crap weather and how lucrative a writing career can turn out.

Iain Banks

Iain Banks

While this sounds strange, it does fit right in the slew of books I’ve been enthusiastic about recently, that contain stories instead of data. This one fits that bill. There is enough mention of whisky to keep it within the category, add to that a great writing style and fun anecdotes. You’re golden in my book!

To sum up this book in short, without giving too much away, it’s a bit like this:

It’s cool that a publisher wants to pay you a quite substantial amount of money to drive around Scotland in search of good whisky. Since you’re driving you can’t drink so you more or less are obliged to buy cases and cases of whisky, part of which is considered expenses. As it turns out, even after drinking drams at most distilleries, and buying bottles from even more of them, sometimes by the case, there is no perfect dram (so much for the sub title ‘In search of the perfect dram’).

If you dot that story with 300 pages of fun bits and pieces, and still manage to get paid, you’re doing it right.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you can get it ridiculously cheap like I did (pro tip: You can, here). If you normally like swapping stories, this book is for you. If you are looking for details on how it’s made, what tasting notes are to be found in which dram, look elsewhere.

I am now curious to see how some of his often mentioned other books are, so I might end up ordering some of those.

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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1 Response to Raw Spirit – Iain Banks

  1. Billy says:

    I recommend that you read all of his other books, both Iain Banks and Iain M Banks. There are a few “less good” ones along the way, but they’re are generally very good indeed.

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