Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram Hardcover – 6 Nov 2003
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"Its a very readable and hugely informative book, and Banks gentle humour permeates the pages." -- Time Out
"Its an engaging piece of work, part love letter, part memoir " -- Esquire
"Scotlands most favorite export is decanted into full-bodied, humorous prose." -- Independent on Sunday
" fiery, variegated, and full of delicious moments" -- Literary Review
'...the detail is fascinating...very readable...' -- Lea Valley Star, 22 October 2003
A personal journey through the highlands and islands exploring the history, personalities and mystery of the water of life. (2003-03-03)See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Iain was a novelist, not a technical writer. His tools were character and incident, not
production charts and spreadsheets. The idea of writing a guide to malt whiskies was just the jumping-off point for a idiosyncratic look at the search for perfection, the thing that drives human beings on, even though we know, paradoxically, that the things we make and build will never achieve it. It is seeing how close we can get that makes our lives worth living.
This is a book about the journey, not the destination. And what a journey it was! Face it, a book about a guy taking the 'bus to various Glagow off-licences in search of bargain booze was never likely to enthrall the reader. This is more like Bill Bryson on acid.
Iain lived life to the full and it shows in this work - Raw Spirit indeed! Forget the negative reviews. If you enjoyed Bank's novels, don't miss this unique memoir of a life less ordinary.
RIP Iain. You will be sadly missed.
I think it's important to read this book with an open mind. The folks who commissioned Iain Banks to write this guide to Scottish single malts were not just interested in him delivering a soberly (!) comparative guide, but also must have wanted his own brand of incisive, accessible, writerly charm to accompany it. I think he's delivered both. This is the Banksian shot at Zen and the Art of Whisky Appreciation. This is a book to be read at leisure, maybe taking notes, maybe not.
While intersposing amusing anecdotes about his foibles, his friends, his love of cars and driving, and a certain degree of political engagement - his research for this book began at the start of the present Iraq war - I think "Banksy" has also managed to provide an extremely reliable guide to the individual flavours of Scottish single malts and to the process of making them.
What comes across is his rather unexpected (if you're familiar with his fiction) kindly and constructive nature. At no point does he disparage any of the malts he's been encouraged to review. Instead, using his writerly gifts for precise, unpretentious description, he gives us a very accurate impression of the way each of them tastes. I can certainly attest that his descriptions of the few single malts I have tasted myself are spot-on. He also makes it very clear what kinds of tastes he prefers (strong!) and leaves the reader to decide which ones to try, without passing unfavourable judgement - although he is very quick to praise his favourites. In fact, my very favourite single malt is one which he does not favour himself, but he has certainly described it perfectly. This makes me trust his judgement.Read more ›
So what else do you get for your money? Well, you get a little autobiographical detail about Banks. As a fan of (most) of his other books I found this quite interesting. Others not familiar with Banks himself may not find this information as entertaining.
You also get various random anecdotes about Banks' friends which sometimes verge on the self-indulgent. There are several tales that I'm sure are of interest to them and them alone.
You also get Banks' commentary on contemporary events. Chiefly, you get his views on the war in Iraq. Briefly, Banks was against it and becomes extremely repetitive when referring to it.
You also get a LOT of incredibly dull stuff about cars, but that is nothing compared to the mind-numbing tedium that accompanies his seemingly endless details about Scottish roads. This book has page after page of utterly pointless information about just about every road north of Glasgow and in these sections is, quite frankly, unreadable.
In summary - as a book about whisky it is less than adequate, as an autobiography it is patchy, as social commentary it is repetitive, as a trevelogue it is dull, dull, dull.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fortunately I picked this up at a charity stall for £2 and didnt pay the £17.99 list price. Essentially its a Banks ego trip - the book is all about him and his opinions, loosely... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Tim
A great read - not so much for the information about the whisky, although that was fantastic, but for the other things discussed.Published 2 months ago by Mark Forsyth
Banksie at his best travelling the Whiskey route he loved so much. A must read.Published 10 months ago by Mr Robert J Luck