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Alfred Barnard : The Whisky Distilleries of the U.K.

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Alfred Barnard : The Whisky Distilleries of the U.K.

Postby Muskrat Portage » Mon Jan 09, 2006 11:19 pm

Okay, I just acquired this massive tome, which was reprinted as a facsimile edition in 2003 by Birlinn Ltd.

I had noticed references to Alfred Barnard in Scotch Missed by Brian Townsend and decided that to truly appreciate what we have today, I should purchase a copy and review it for myself. I am aware there have been previous posts about "Alfred Barnard + Bowmore" and "The Best Whisky Book" but as this forum is not just for we hoary old hares (with apologies to Mercutio) but also for the newly annointed, a forum just to comment on this volume might be in order.

I've read a few select chapters about Islay distilleries in conjunction with reading and drinking my way through "Peat Smoke and Spirit" by Andrew Jefford and found it a pleasant reinforcement to Jeffords' 21 century take on Islay. Now, I'm starting from the beginning and have already noticed how it lacks the detailed study of the distilleries visited in later segments of the book.

The writing is in a long disused style and yet almost flows when you read it out loud. Perhaps we shouldn't dismiss this out of hand as an out of date travelogue and appreciate it for what it was, a writer venturing out into the wilds of the near Empire who posted his missives back to his editor at Harpers' Bazaar for publication. Somewhat like the old "penny dreadfuls" of derring do in the American West, which were published in the same time frame, his readers were transported by word to the far flung outposts of whisky production which were unattainable to the average Englishman.

If you haven't read it, find and read a print copy or that which is on the internet. If you have read it, maybe it's time to revisit Alfred and his cronies as they "enjoy the pure air of heaven among the mountains, lakes and valleys of Scotland and Ireland" (ppvi) once more. Then comment.

M.P.
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