The books I ordered myself as a birthday treat were waiting for me when I got home tonight. After a few admiring moments I put them on a shelf to get back to later, and realised they were sitting next to the pile of books I bought myself in The Main Street Trading Company (excellent bookshop in St Boswells, which also has a very good cafe and deli) as a late Christmas present last new year. I've walked past them almost every day over the last year, never putting them away properly because I've always convinced I'd pick one of them up next.
Top of the pile was Buchan's 'John Macnab', chosen because I've been meaning to read more Buchan forever, it seemed appropriate for a break in Scotland, and I knew D would probably enjoy it too (he might get the chance to find out this time around). This is exactly the sort of combination of book and whisky that generally makes up his Christmas present.
The idea is to choose an excellent whisky, Royal Lochnagar is one of my favourites, and a book that should be full of action, not to serious, and have a particular sort of atmosphere. 'John Macnab', allegedly Buchan's second most famous novel and published in 1925 boasts 3 high flying men (a barrister, a cabinet minister, and a banker) who are bored. To cure their boredom they inform 3 Scottish estates that they will poach from each 2 stags and a Salmon in a given time... It promises to be an evocative look at the hunting, shooting, and fishing lifestyle in the highlands in the 1920's. The introduction promises that it remains a thumping good read, and I love books that have the kind of details about a time, place, and people, that this one promises.
Royal Lochnagar sits hard by Balmoral, it got the Royal in its name after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert expressed approval of the local product (I've read that Victoria liked to mix it with her claret). I like the hint of sherry and fruitcake on the nose, and the rich palate which carries through on the fruitcake promise with extra toffee and cereal notes. It's not an especially heavy whisky, a certain peatiness is hinted at, and altogether it's an excellent all rounder - just the thing to enjoy by a fire after a walk in the winter cold, and ideally with a slice of Christmas cake also to hand. With a book like this I hope it would be just enough to add to the general atmosphere, and make the dialect more intelligible. Slàinte mhath.