Make mine a double

7th August 1998 at 01:00
WHISKY ON THE ROCKS. By Stephen and Julie Cribb. Illustrated by Richard Bell. British Geological Survey. Pounds 6.50.

Billions of litres of water fall on Scotland every year. It percolates through vegetation, soil, or peat, to the country's bedrock to emerge as springs and streams. By this time it has acquired qualities unique to each district in the country. This subtly transmuted rainwater is the basis of single malt Scotch whisky production and gives to each of its brands a distinctive flavour.

9.3 = This delightful and entertaining book takes us on a geological tour of the magnificently scenic country where the malts are produced. It begins in Islay, where the intricate geology of the island is related to water sources and distillery locations. This detailed local introduction is then expanded into a discussion of all Scotland's geology and water sources providing a framework for the shorter regional entries which follow.

The tour takes us through Grampian and Speyside, then north to the farthest distilleries in Caithness and Orkney. It returns south and west through the Highland boundary fault country and Skye to end at Bushmills in Antrim, the only producers of single malt Scotch outside Scotland. All in all 116 distilleries are named. The book is beautifully illustrated by Richard Bell and the geological diagrams are outstandingly useful; there is surely material here for a travelling exhibition.

* Patrick Bailey died on July 16, aged 72. A tribute to his work in geography education will appear in 'The TES' next term.

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