Whisky Magazine Issue 40
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Guttered is a decadent and bawdy drinking romp. Perfect terrain for Jefferson Chase, then
The problem with a title that stops bookshop browsers in their tracks is that the entire work has to match the expectations raised by the cover. Tom Morton almost pulls off this feat in his 1999 novel Guttered.
Morton – a journalist who makes his home in the Shetland Islands and hosts a weekly music programme on BBC Radio Scotland – has a great feel for Scottish diction, especially at its most vulgar. Pair that with a knowledge of the terrain born in part from a motorcycle tour through
some 100 distilleries, which Morton made in the early ‘90s, and you've got the ingredients for a bawdy, cynical and consistently over-the-top tale of decadence in the northerly reaches of the British Isles.
Guttered was marketed as a crime novel, but the label is misleading. It's really an extended meditation on the existential issues of drinking combined with an almost Don DeLillo/ Thomas Pynchon-esque conspiracy theory of a plot.
The novel opens with the protagonist Alexander ‘Zander' Flaws, described as ‘the world's worst private detective,' visiting his GP.
I smirked, pulled out a Grants of Dalvey sporran flask from my jacket pocket and unscrewed the top. ‘Uisge beatha, Hernia. The water of life. Here's health! Slainte!' I just about managed to find my mouth with the cool stainless steel spout, and felt the prickly liquid heat of 16-year-old Lagavulin, neat, catch at my throat and begin its warming, healing descent into the gut, nipping at the ulcerating ache in my gullet, t...