By @SimonCocking, review of Whisky Burn: Distilleries of Scotland by Vespa – the Highlands and Islands, by Ben Birdsall. Available from Amazon here.

A three week one thousand mile odyssey round the Scottish Highlands on the back of author Ben Birsall’s trusty 1979 Vespa 50. Ben is armed only with paints and brushes pots and pans one small tent and something called a ‘Kelly Kettle’. Visiting over 40 of Scotland’s better-known and lesser-known distilleries capturing on canvas the rugged landscape and camping along the way Ben offers a fascinating insight into the myths and mysteries of the whisky world. Colourful engaging historically accurate informative and entertaining Whisky Burn inspires the reader to learn more perhaps to ride out along same route and imbibe – though not simultaneously of course.

This is a gorgeous book, a tough endeavour and a great idea that we wish we had thought of, perhaps. His Vespa is small and sturdy, but also actually takes quite a long time to get anywhere. This book may well have been a labour of love but the end result is impressive, with great images in both photographs and also by his sketches to capture the Scottish Highlands and Islands. At a time of great expansion and boom for the global, Scottish and even Irish whiskey industry it is great to learn a little more about one of the great centres of the whisky producing world. Birdsall, originally from Bradford, then decided to continue his quest to learn more about whiskies of the world by hopping onto his study Vespa and coming to Ireland too – to seek out new and old Irish whiskies too. We look forward to see what that book looks like too, and hopefully it is as impressive and beautiful as this Scottish version of his travels.

For those looking for a cooler alternative road trip to the baking hot roads of Greece or elsewhere in southern Europe, this is a lovely book to inspire you and to consider a possible Scottish venture instead.


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