Peat Smoke and Spirit
Andrew Jefford – 2004 – Headline Book Publishing – 406 pages including glossary, bibliography, index and illustrations.
The important thing about this book is to understand that it is not a book about Islay whiskies. It is a book about Islay that also includes whisky – lots of it.
The format is that the book is basically that every other chapter is devoted to one of the islands distilleries whilst the other chapters explore other aspects. Although the contents page lays it under the format of each chapter having two parts – one being the subject and the second part being a glass of whisky whish is the bit about the distillery.
If you love whisky this book is for you – if you love Islay this book is for you. It is hard to think of an aspect of the island that is not covered. Geology, ancient history, modern history, wildlife, farming, land ownership, transport, culture, people, shipwrecks, war, politics, finance and so much more – including whisky – in detail and also maltings.
This is not a book written through rose coloured glasses – in fact I found the start quite depressing. This book looks at the ups and downs including unemployment, drugs and isolation. From population problems to community spirit it is all here in intimate detail. Andrew Jefford did not just spend a day and did some interviews – this book has had serious time and research given over to it.
A brilliant book and an essential read.