As a sequel to his well-received travelogue/guide to the distilleries of Scotland, “Whisky Burn”, published by Wittenborg University Press, Ben Birdsall is set to embark upon the ‘sequel’ – the distilleries of Ireland.
Where are you going this time?
Mid July, I am taking a clockwise, more or less coastal route from Dublin to Dublin, passing through some of the most important cities, like Cork, Limerick, Galway, Belfast, (are there any others?) and back to Dublin again. 1,600km, I think, which should take about three weeks.
How are you travelling?
The only way to travel – by Vespa! I’m shipping my trusty 1979 50cc to Dublin on a pallet, then flying in and collecting it the day I start the trip. I often get asked why I don’t just hire a car, well, the answer to that is it wouldn’t be the same. I’ve been making Vespa trips like this for years now, in Italy, Switzerland, last time in Scotland, and now Ireland, so it has become a sort of tradition. Also, I paint landscapes along the way and the Vespa suits me in two ways for that – I can park up pretty much anywhere, and it goes so slowly (max. 42 kmph) that I don’t miss anything. I always bring along a tent, so accommodation is never a problem.
How successful has the first book been?
“Whisky Burn” had quite a bit of coverage in the press. Last January’s “Scootering” magazine had a picture of me riding across the front cover, and I was even centrefold of a German biker mag, well, the Vespa was. Sales are healthy at the moment through the www.whiskyburn.com website, Amazon and other online or high street bookshops. A dedicated internship at Wittenborg for the sales and marketing of the book has helped this.
How will the second trip be different to the first?
Irish whiskey is different to Scottish whisky, besides the spelling. The process is different, the history and culture are different, too – all things which I am going to research on my 3-week tour. It is an interesting time in Irish whiskey, the industry has been transformed over the last few years with a host of new companies and micro-distilleries cropping up all over Ireland.
What is the ethos behind your Vespa trips?
Travelling light, never drinking and driving, expecting to be confronted with the unexpected, and learning from the experience. As the 6th century St. Augustine said, “The world is a book – those who do not travel, read only one page.”
by James Wittenborg
©Wittenborg University Press