One more day of work left before Christmas and I feel broken. Bone weary, and emotionally wrung out with the effort of shifting stock and being pleasant to people intent on visiting their own frustrations on someone not allowed to reciprocate in kind. The flip side of that is how amazing it is when people are pleasant and you get to share a bit of mutual vermouth appreciation (I grant you that the last bit is quite specific, but people being nice, talking about nice things - my god, does it ever make for a better day).
There is apparently an Icelandic tradition whereby books are given on Christmas Eve, and people read late into the night. I was doubtful about this when I first heard it, it sounded too good to be true, but seems it is. I have my own tradition for Christmas Eve, but if I didn't have to be at work for 7am tomorrow, if instead this was the start of my Christmas break, I'd be reading this book.
'And The Wind Sees All' takes place over two minutes in an Icelandic fishing village, at 172 pages it's a bit longer than some of Peirene's novellas have been, but it's still the sort of thing you could read in a night if you wanted too. They also tend to be books challenging enough to demand a bit of thought - and I've missed the time and space to read anything like that in over the last month.
There's nothing in the tradition that says it has to be an Icelandic book, but it seems to me that a novella makes sense for something like this. Something that you can start and finish in a sitting, that gives you time to put the stress of the last few weeks behind you so that when you finish you're only looking forward. Or just a book you can really immerse yourself in, and I've been meaning to read this one for a while.
Martin Millar's gin is a longstanding favourite. Unusually I can vividly remember the first time I tried it (an Oddbins wine fair when they were launching it with the company). At that time gin was considerably less fashionable than it is now, and not something you'd generally consider drinking neat. Neat is how we were offered it though and the quality was a revelation. I've loved this gin ever since.
It's unique selling point is that although the gin is distilled in the U.K., the water it's cut with comes from Iceland - because it's so much purer that water anywhere else, and makes a discernible difference to the end result (I've spoken to people who were part of the development process who swear this is not just a sales pitch). Back then the gin had to go to Iceland and then come back, now I think I'm right in saying the water comes to the gin.
More than anything though I just want to shout out about how good this gin is, I have a handful of favourites, and struggle to resist anything new that looks interesting - but if pushed this would be the one I'd stick with if I had to. It's mid price (not cheap, but well under £30) super premium quality, and good in everything that you might want gin for. It's a classic juniper forward gin, you don't need to worry about which tonic is going to bring out its finer points (whatever your favourite tonic is will be just fine) or get to worked up about garnishes (I favour lime, or nothing at all).