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Peat Smoke and Spirit: A Portrait of Islay and Its Whiskies [Paperback]

Andrew Jefford
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.04
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Book Description

6 Jun 2005

Those who discover malt whisky quickly learn that the malts made on the Isle of Islay are some of the wildest and most characterful in the malt-whisky spectrum.

In PEAT SMOKE AND SPIRIT, Islay's fascinating story is uncovered: from its history and stories of the many shipwrecks which litter its shores, to intimate descriptions of the beautiful wildlife, landscape and topography of the island. Interwoven through these different narrative strands comes the story of the whiskies themselves, traced from a distant past of bothies and illegal stills to present-day legality and prosperity. The flavour of each spirit is analysed and the differences between them teased out, as are the stories of the notable men and women who have played such a integral part in their creation.

PEAT SMOKE AND SPIRIT is the last word on Islay and its whiskies.

Frequently Bought Together

Peat Smoke and Spirit: A Portrait of Islay and Its Whiskies + Islay: Pevensey Island Guides + Islay (Landranger Maps) (OS Landranger Map)
Price For All Three: £19.57

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Headline (6 Jun 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747245789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747245780
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 54,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Andrew Jefford writes so beautifully that I suspect he could make a history of galvanised steel bolts seem graceful and absorbing. And so this is not simply an appreciation of whisky, but a voyage into the history and geography of a tiny Scottish island (Daily Mail)

The attention to detail and thoroughness of this book brings the distilleries so vividly alive that you can almost smell the whisky. Thoroughly recommended to whisky connoisseur and dabbler alike (Birmingham Evening Mail)

There's no better book about these whiskies than Andrew Jefford's PEAT SMOKE AND SPIRIT... Jefford is an excellent writer... In PEAT SMOKE AND SPIRIT, Andrew Jefford has written a compelling narrative that succeeds on every level (Mid-Atlantic Brewing News)

Book Description

A wonderfully evocative book that tells the story of Islay's whisky and reflects a place and a taste never to be forgotten

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best travel book ever? 27 July 2008
In April of 2007, I spent a fortnight in the UK, including a week in Scotland. The best part of the vacation was three days spent on Islay, which is a gorgeous island with great whisky and a rich history. I've never been a big fan of travel books, but luckily stumbled on Jefford's study of Islay and read it cover to cover. Jefford is a terrific writer and researcher, weaving the geology, history and culture of the island in the warp of beautifully-sourced studies of each of the island's distilleries. It's simply a terrific book that anyone traveling to Islay (or wishing to) should read before their trip. Oh, and Islay is a fantastic place to visit.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travel to Scotland without leaving your chair! 27 Nov 2005
As a single malt enthusiast and someone who spent every school holiday in Scotland as a child, I was pleasantly surprised to find a whisky book that wasn't just a list ot tasting notes but gave some insight into the history and environments of the distilleries, and goes some way to show how each whisky can have such individual characteristics though all be made from malted barley.
This book (accompanied by a dram or three of the whiskies described therein!) somehow manages to transport the reader to Islay and its distilleries from the comfort of your cosy armchair, perfect for a reading buy the fire on a winters day.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable when travelling to Islay 11 April 2008
I bought the book, because I plan to go to the island in a few months.
Of course you try to educate yourself about the place you go to.
I've seldom come across a book that touches all sides of the "Queen" of the Hebrides : History, weather, people, landscape and above all the whiskies.
Very knowledgeable about the distilleries (how did he get those inside stories)?
I think I'm better prepared now to travel to Islay. A truly wonderful book.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get me to! 25 July 2005
By Frankie
What an absolute joy to read! From the opening chapter, as the author takes us flying from Glasgow to Islay, you feel that you are going to be in inspiring and enthusiastic company. Surely this is what travel writing should be all about?
At all levels the book is satisfying, whether or not you are a whisky fan or a Hebridean island traveller. Being both, I was predisposed to enjoy the book, though was surprised at just how much I did.
Andrew has an engaging and obvious enthusiasm for this unique island, which comes across on nearly every page. Each of Islay's seven current distilleries are dedicated a chapter each, but the book is much more than whisky. History, nature, peat, shipwrecks and even the weather are discussed and enthused over, with such relish that I even found myself (absurdly) becoming nostalgic for those notorious wet, grey Scottish seasons.
His research has been excellent. As well as fascinating and informative, it is often amusing and quite touching. The book would surely inspire even an ardent teetotaller to have at least a taste at the various Islay malts; and inspire any rain- soaked visitors to give this beautiful Scottish island another chance.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it over and over 1 Oct 2009
This book has benn on the desk next to my bed since I got it a year ago. A fantastic presentation of Islay, the history both of the island and of each one of the distilleries and of Whisky i general. I have learned a lot about the poduction process, what influence on the nose and the taste, and what several well known personalities feel about Islay Whisky.

Good buy :-)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Book about Islay and whisky 18 May 2011
By JonDS
Verified Purchase
Whisky aficionados who enjoy reading about the beverage they are consuming may want to consider adding this work to their library. Why?

For starters, author Andrew Jefford offers some good background information about whisky distillation. His description of wash and spirit still design is relatively brief yet quite informative. I learned more with his words than from many of the other, more expensive, books in my library. While knowing the ingredients and brewing process is pretty basic, the narrative is interesting and refreshing. Then, he covers distillation in a way that other whisky writers just don't quite match.

Turning to the core of the book - about Islay. Quite impressive! He's sandwiched descriptions of each distillery in between background material about Islay. About as close as one can get without actually going!

The descriptions of each distillery were quite thorough with both history and information on the style used by each. Jefford helps the reader to understand that whisky is an art rather than science. There is so much that we don't understand about what goes into a memorable whisky - and Jefford helps us to understand why through his descriptions of each operation. The water is often cited by distillers - not necessarily according to what he writes. The amount of peat, the grain and so on all may or may not be a factor and this book gives a good feel for that reality. At the end of each distillery's chapter is a list of hard facts - quite useful when making comparisons or considering whether to purchase a particular whisky. Also interesting is that he is able to be critical about a distillery without being negative - if the reader isn't reflective some good points might even be overlooked.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Insight Into The World Of Whisky 18 July 2007
This book is a real mine of information for all those interested in Islay and Islay Whiskies. The image on the front cover is from the Number 1 vaults at Bowmore ([...]) looking over Loch Indaal to Bruichladdich both fine Malts!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought for my husband who is thoroughly enjoying it
Published 1 month ago by RUth Redgrave
5.0 out of 5 stars Death of Somerled at Glasgow Airport!
Excellent read, not just a guide to Islay's distilleries but a history of Islay thrown in.
One small point, Somerled may have sailed his fleet up the Clyde but never in his... Read more
Published 7 months ago by meek
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational
I've never been to Islay before but have always loved its whiskies. This beautifully written, wise and heartfelt book has made me want to visit the island as a matter of urgency -... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Guadiana
5.0 out of 5 stars Whisky Galore
Highly recommend this book whether or not you are a whisky drinker or not. Well written and choc full of information on one of the best areas for drinking top quality malt
Published 10 months ago by P.Mahon
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything is in here
Do you love Islay whisky and want to know more about the distilleries and the context of the island? This is the book to read. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Wim Jacobs
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
I read this before going to Islay for distillery tours and... well, mostly distillery tours.
The book deepened my appreciation of the island and of whiskey. Read more
Published 16 months ago by D. W. Kessler
5.0 out of 5 stars Present for friend
Bought as present for friend who is going to Islay this summer. She is very happy says it is a good read and very informative. Will be trying a few drams out when she gets there.
Published 20 months ago by S. MOORE
3.0 out of 5 stars ok
making people write long reviews on ggod they receive is in my opinion expecting a lot. surely just a simple word comment is enough??
Published 21 months ago by Ms. Julie A. Renyard
5.0 out of 5 stars HAPPY MALT WHISKY DRINKER
I bought this book for my HUsband as part of his Christmas and as we had been to Islay last year and visited all the distilleries there he thoroughly enjoyed reading a more indepth... Read more
Published on 19 Jan 2010
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