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83
3.2 out of 5 stars
Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 24 December 2003
Start with a mix of equal portions of well-written tasting notes, clear but simplistic travel commentary, testosterone-laden ramblings about cars, and seemingly endless musings of irrelevant old personal stories, then stir briskly with ego run amok. The result is a book that is readable (as is my jam jar), informative (as is the ingredient list on that jam jar), and entertaining (about as much as the jam jar).
The book did offer some insights into the Scottish whisky industry, and it confirmed my desire to travel around Scotland touring some of the distilleries. But was it necessary to fill it with so much drivel?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 August 2009
I read this whilst on holiday in Tuscany (which may have been an influence) and I loved the book, because it wasn't travelogue or just about whisky, but because it was all those things and more. I see from the other reviews that a lot of people didn't appreciate the "mish-mash" of things, but for me that's what made it.
So if you like cars, know Scotland outside of the cities, love the countryside, enjoy whisky and a touch of banter along the way then this is for you. The style often reminded of being away with friends when we go away for a weekends walking in Scotland. Just great fun and never too serious!
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2007
I think many of the reviewers are missing the point of this book. It's *not* just a book about whiskey, and in fact Banks makes this clear very early on. It's a fusion of many different topics, from drams to driving and I don't get how the fact that it is littered with anecdotes from the author is being seen as a down-side.

It does ramble at times, but if you've ever heard an interview with Iain Banks - that's how he actually talks. It strikes me that people want to pick and choose which aspects of this book they personally enjoy, but that is missing the point. This book, as a whole, is great. If you try and dismiss particular parts of it, such as the driving or the bits about Iain's life, then you're not going to enjoy it. Maybe you would enjoy a book which is more focused on *only* whiskey.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2008
How can Iain Banks have assembled such a tedious book? I'm almost of an age with him; I too used to fool about with cannabis, I'm a Scot like him and I hate the Iraq war and the politicians that got us into it. And over the years, I've grown to love malts. And I even Like Iain Banks' books.
I'm going to love this, right? Nooooo!
It reeks of a book written in a hurry for a cheque. Did he ever re-read it once written? There's maybe a good 50 page pamphlet in there; please please don't make me re-read all those tedious sections with his so-entertaining pals and his so-fantastic cars. Iain, sober up!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2014
It's so good to hear Iain Banks's voice coming through this book; now that he's no longer with us his wit and skill are to be cherished even more.
And this is also a great book about whisky - if you're even vaguely interested, pick up a copy and be prepared to have your views changed, perhaps.
Finally, it's a lovely travelogue about Scotland, full of marvellous, perceptive vignettes of a great country.
Very highly recommended.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Iain Banks is a Scot who loves Scotland and shares that in many of his books, especially this one. So far, so good. The descriptions of the whisky and the distilleries are colourful and make easy reading. For those intimately familiar with the geography of the highlands, the descriptions of some of the better motoring routes are quite evocative. However it must have become clear that there were not going to be enough pages if he stuck to his brief, so the book is padded out with a lot of autobiographical nonsense. Curiously he does not come out of this very well. Although he tries to paint himself as a bit of a lad and true to his roots; instead he inadvertently shows himself as a drunken bore who is regularly tasking the patience of his friends with foolish and dangerous pranks. While clearly enjoying all the dosh he has made by indulging himself with fancy cars and expensive booze, he wants to be a working class hero. While his views on the Iraq war were hard to refute then or now, they have no place in this book and the ranting style is frankly childish.
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2003
A sort of cross between a travelogue and an Autobiography.
This is the first book I have read by Iain Banks and I have the feeling it will not be the last. A meandering(In a good way!) and informative book which includes many funny anecdotes of Iain's escapades as Scotland’s premier "Bon Viveur" which may or may not be related to the search for the perfect Dram. I can highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in either; Cars, Pyromania, Urban climbing, Sailing, Drinking, Scotland and Life in general. An excellent read.
Oh, and its got some bits about Whisky in it too.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2015
Bought for my brother in law and he says it is the first book that he could not put down! He enjoys a dram too! Places he has been and roads he has driven....
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 October 2013
Ok for a novice to whisky but quite smug and self-aggrandising for my tastes.
Definitely 40% abv, chill filtered and heavy on the caramel.
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15 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2003
Having found too much of Banksie's recent fiction disappointing, I bought this one out of curiosity as much as anything. His skill as a writer certainly shows through, significantly better than the likes of Bill Bryson, for example, in terms of a travel book. So this looks like a welcome addition to the Banks canon.
I also found the autobiographical aspect interesting, in that it made his fiction, such as Against a Dark Background and Use of Weapon, seem more accomplished in comparison to his day-to-day activities.
If only he can get more enthusiastic about future fiction titles, and inject some life into them, instead of going through the motions. Making them about 250 pages long might be a good target, so that he can fit some quality work into his 12 week, working year.
He also made me laugh at his idea of a writer barely keeping the wolf from the door.
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