Search for a Whisky Bothy (Ralfy Mitchell)

It’s been ages since I did a book review here. I’ve not been reading much at all, over the last few years, not since travelling by train to work stopped because of changing jobs and locations. But I’m trying to pick it up again and when Ralfy (famous for his whisky vlogs) published his first book, I decided that would be a good one to pick up.

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Image nicked from Ralfy’s Twitter page

Ralfy is an undertaker from Glasgow, who now lives on the Isle of Man, and is well known for his love for whisky, transparency and honesty. What I know about him is all based on what he says in his videos, but those have a true sense of honesty and openness about them.

Albeit that I do accept some samples for reviewing, I did learn from him to never hide opinions, and always be as open as possible in this regard. Something I think I am managing (please tell me if you disagree).

This honesty, compared to the scripted nonsense you often get from brand ambassadors (paraphrasing from the book here) is something that he values greatly, and in Ralfy’s opinion this is what the internet is for. To be an antithesis to paid for publishings, marketing and brand outings.

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The book starts with how he got to be into whisky, from happenstance meetings with alcoholic coopers that left him their random collections of assorted samples and bottles. Many nights dozing off in front of the fireplace with several drams being tasted are described, with even a few appearances of Ralfy’s ‘spirit companion’ Orlando. A cat, dead twenty years.

Outings to and with the Glasgow Whisky Club, a motorcycle trip to Bladnoch distillery and the start of vlogging at Springbank and Loch Fyne Whiskies are nice descriptions of what makes being a whisky fanatic great, and what makes (a sizable chunk of) the whisky industry great.

There are some parts of the book that are a bit too philosophical for me, and (without this being condescending or demeaning) it would surprise me if these chapters were written after a dram or two.

What is great about the book is that it makes me want to have a dram. It makes me want to visit Scotland, and it reminds me of my ‘journey through whisky’. Of course, Ralfy is rather famous and I am not, which is perfectly fine, but the random drinks of whisky leading into a full fledged passion, or even mania, is very recognizable.

What this book does great is reestablishing a passion for whisky, with more focus and zeal. Ever since I’ve been reading this, cooped up during the corona crisis, is make me love whisky more for what it is. Not for what ‘The Industry’ wants it to be.

Oh, and in name of honesty. The only drawback to the story is that it sometimes seems the author really loves adjectives, and can get carried away with those. Not a huge surprise if you follow his Youtube channel though.

And, secondly, if it peeves you, this is a self published book, and with it come the expected typos.

Thanks Ralfy!

You can get the book at various retailers, from Amazon, Bol, Whiskyboeken. If possible, try get it from your local shop, especially nowadays.

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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