I love scooters, this you know. I also enjoy Scotch. When I found Ben Birdsall and his book at World Vespa Days in Belfast, I was so cold a glass of any Scotch would have been welcome. I reached out to Ben and he sent me a very nice copy of his book. I say very nice as it has a wooden cover. I regret that I put off reading it. I really knew nothing about the book other than its premise, Ben rides around Scotland and drinks whisky. To be honest that thought reminded me too much of my carefree youth and a time in my life when I not only drank too much but I also rode just after doing so. In my mind this had to be some Hunter S Thompson drunken riding through Scotland. Finally I picked it up and started reading. My first point of intrigue was that he was doing this adventure on a Vespa 50. That to me was one up on my friend who travels the world on his Primavera two up. Secondly he was not drinking and riding. He would hit up several distilleries in a day and buy the mini bottles and then tasting them only in the evening after the riding was done. He did not usually taste them during the distillery tours. I have mad respect for his restraint.
Ben really has a knack for storytelling. Not only his own journey but the stories of those he comes across. Some of them unbelievable but like a great journalist he went home and did his homework and some fact checking. The one armed cyclist actually did work in a Circus. You can read his story and laugh as much as I did I’m sure. In addition to writing Ben is also a painter and he’s got his “overloaded” Vespa 50 packed with painting supplies. He’ll take an afternoon and paint a landscape of the land that he’s taking his time to see. Having no choice on his small but determined scooter. He’s also got some nice photos in of the distilleries their employees and the process of distilling whisky. If you don’t know anything or a minimal amount about whisky Ben does a great job and describing the subtle differences in each distillers process. It’s pretty interesting. I will say I think Ben is a bit of a nut for even considering camping in any season on the beautiful island of Scotland but I also have respect for his mostly care free attitude about the journey. In the end it made me want to pack up my scooter get a couple of friends and make my own tour of Scotland’s Distilleries.
To buy Ben’s book http://whiskyburn.com/
He’s also written two other books which were adventures by Vespa.