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Issue 35 - Literary Spirit (Iain Banks)

Whisky Magazine Issue 35
November 2003


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Literary Spirit (Iain Banks)

Top author Iain Banks couldn't believe his luck when he was asked to write a book on Scotland's distilleries. He tells Dominic Roskrow about his year drinking whisky.

When Iain Banks was approached about writing his new book, it was, to coin a phrase, an offer he simply couldn't refuse.

His agent wanted to know if the author of such landmark novels as The Wasp Factory and The Crow Road was interested in touring Scotland by a number of different modes of transport and visiting as many of the country's distilleries as he possibly could. “I just wish I'd thought of the idea for myself,” he says now, just days after approving the final pages.

“It was put to me that while there wasn't enough room in the market for a whisky book about tasting there might be room for something a bit more idiosyncratic. They wanted a Scottish writer and my name came up because I liked a drop of whisky. That was how it was put to me. I mean they might have approached Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin first, but that's not what they told me.

“It was too good an opportunity to miss. My brief was to get to as many distilleries as possible using trains, planes, ferries and even motorbikes as well as cars, and to give an overview of Scottish malt whisky and the social aspects of drinking it. The plan was to get to as many far flung distilleries as possible.”

Over the years Banks has grown to love whisky with a passion, favouring Islay malts and in particular the big three in the south of the island. But he had spent only a limited time visiting distilleries, so researching this book was to be a revelation.

“Like so many men in my generation I was introduce...

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