Belfast airport, a few months ago. Having spent the weekend with my girlfriend, I and my best friend were waiting for our return flight. It was delayed so we had ample time to browse through the books in the airport bookstore.
As a longtime fan of Iain (M) Banks my eye caught the cover of the 'Raw Spirit' book, of which the store had two. I'd never heard of the book, but when I read the back cover I immediately bought it. An avid whisk(e)y drinker for years, I couldn't resist digging into a book about Scotch whiskeys from one of my all-time favorite authors.
I had to laugh so much the first few chapters that my mate went back and bought the last copy of the book so he could read it right there and then as well.
'Raw Spirit' manages to combine nearly all the things I find important and worthwhile in life - whiskey, cars, friendship, politics and travel. It's wonderful to read, thick with Banks's customary wit, and it allows us a glimpse into his regular life. I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable read and it made me crave a long trek through Scotland, mapped out according to the distilleries I want to visit. Alas, I've never been to Scotland (yet) but Banks's book at times made me feel like I was there in person.
Additionally, I owe Mr. Banks a personal debt for encouraging me, through his words in Raw Spirit, to give Laphraoig a try, regardless of the opinions of my peers (who unanimously condemn it as too harsh and smoky). I find it to be one of the very finest whiskeys I've ever had the fortune of sampling.