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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: books

When All is Said: A novel told through whiskey

As you may have already guessed, we love whiskey at Master of Malt. We also love reading, that is why we’re head-over-heels with When All is Said, a novel told…

As you may have already guessed, we love whiskey at Master of Malt. We also love reading, that is why we’re head-over-heels with When All is Said, a novel told through Irish whiskey.

When All is Said is Anne Griffin’s debut, but it reads like the work of a master storyteller. No surprise then that it’s been selling like hot cakes in Britain and Ireland (where it was a number one bestseller), and picking up great reviews. Master of Malt has been conducting whiskey tastings at some of her talks, including one at Waterstones Covent Garden, where Griffin used to work. Before the event started, she told us a bit about the inspiration for the book:

“It must have been July of 2014, I happened into a bar in Mayo and here was an old gent standing there having a pint. He came over to talk to us. He said, ‘you know I used to work here when I was a boy’, and then he said the most amazing thing as he walked away, he said, ‘I’m not going to see the morning’. But he was gone before I could pull him back say ‘so exactly what does that mean?!’ What a statement! The next day that sentence stayed in my head and the idea of Maurice Hannigan, this fictional character sitting at a bar, to drink five toasts to the most five most important people in his life, came to me. And that’s where it all started.”

Midleton whiskey

Midleton Very Rare – so rare that we have sold out

Over the course of the evening, he has a few drinks, and he tells us his whole life. The three whiskeys he consumes are Bushmills to his daughter Molly, Jefferson’s Bourbon to his son in America, and finally something old and rare from Midleton to his long-suffering wife Sadie. He also drinks a bottle of stout to his brother Tony and one to his sister-in-law Noreen. We learn about his upbringing in poverty in Ireland, working in service for the brutal local landowners, his marriage, and children. There’s skulduggery involving a rare gold sovereign, family revelations and more than a little tragedy.

When All Is Said

Fiction chart-topper, When All Is Said

Hannigan is not always a likeable man. He can be stubborn, mean and greedy. As a boy, he grew up with nothing and gradually became the richest man in the area, but this success came at the expense of personal relationships. It’s a story about regret: that evening, Hannigan says all the things he should have said in person to the people he is addressing. I read much of it on the plane back from Dublin and found myself welling up more than a few times (though apparently altitude makes people emotional). Reading When All is Said is like meeting an interesting, engaging, amusing and occasionally maddening man in the pub, and listening to his life story. There’s something very believable about this reticent man opening up over a few drinks. This quote from the book, sums him up:

“As for Irish men, I’ve news for you. It’s worse as you get older. It’s like we tunnel ourselves deeper into our aloneness. Solving our problems on our own. Men, sitting alone at bars going over and over the same old territory in their heads.”

Anne Griffin

Anne Griffin

Anne Griffin herself is a keen whiskey drinker: “My family, my mum and dad are teetotallers. But around 25, I began to just have a whiskey after dinner. I loved Bushmills and I adored Midleton. And I just felt that Maurice Hannigan had to be a whiskey drinker.” We’ll drink to that.

Master of Malt will be supporting Anne Griffin at the Cork World Book Festival on Saturday 27th April.

When All is Said by Anne Griffin is published by Sceptre, hardback, £12.99.

 

 

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The Home Bar: Our Henry’s book is here!

Our very own features editor Henry Jeffreys has released a book! The Home Bar is full of all kinds of envy-inducing, Insta-worthy abodes, but also some really rather straightforward cocktail…

Our very own features editor Henry Jeffreys has released a book! The Home Bar is full of all kinds of envy-inducing, Insta-worthy abodes, but also some really rather straightforward cocktail ideas, too. We chat to him about all things at-home drinking.

If you’re anything like us, mixing cocktails for friends at home goes one of two ways. Something miraculous could happen where you actually have the ingredients, ice, enough kit and the time, and the Negroni comes out almost as it’s supposed to. Everyone appreciatively oohs and aahhs, but there’s that lingering, sneaking suspicion that a pre-bottled offering might have been better. Then there’s option 2. The most likely option. It looks like a sticky mess, questionable glassware and a total lack of balance. And that’s the best you can hope for even when you’ve got enough ice in.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Henry’s book The Home Bar presents a third option: cocktail recipes you can actually make at home along with glorious images of other people’s home bars. It balances aspirational with our inherent need for nosiness, while actually giving some top tips for at-home cocktail success. And it looks the part, too. (We also reckon it would make a fabulous last-minute Christmas gift if you’re listening, #WhiskySanta!).

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2018’s best booze books

From exploring beer that smells of bins to evaluating the finest wines known to humanity, this year’s booze books have something for everyone. Here’s what to read this Christmas if…

From exploring beer that smells of bins to evaluating the finest wines known to humanity, this year’s booze books have something for everyone. Here’s what to read this Christmas if you like to drink.

There has been a bumper crop of booze books this year. Ideally, we would have at least three posts to get all of them in. But we just don’t have the time! So as we’ve already covered the excellent Aperitif by Kate Hawkings and Japanese Whisky by Brian Ashcraft, I won’t talk about them again. Then there’s the game-changing Home Bar by, errm, me. Anyway, after that shameless plug, here are my top ten drink books of the year.

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