Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Neville Peat with a copy of his book and a bottle of Mackinlay's whisky. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Dunedin author Neville Peat sure has a nose for a story, writes Shane Gilchrist. Neville Peat might boast a surname redolent of a type of turf used to impart flavour to Scotch, yet he has done something no connoisseur would consider. He has mixed whisky with ice. The Dunedin author's latest book, Shackleton's Whisky, was inspired by the 2007 discovery in the Antarctic of three cases of Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky under the hut Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men built on their 1907-1909 expedition. The finding of the whisky, imbedded in ice for 100 years at the picturesque Cape Royds on Ross Island, prompted Peat to embark on his own extensive expedition. And though the project hasn't been quite as daunting a task as Peat's previous publication, The Tasman: Biography of an Ocean (2010), it nonetheless required rigorous research. Peat's journey from inspiration to culmination has ranged from the ice floes of the Antarctic to Scottish distilleries, encompassing historic expeditions, previously unpublished diary entries, and modern scientific methodology, as well as New Zealand's role in protecting the southern continent. Equally, as Peat is quick to admit, Shackleton's Whisky offered him a fresh excuse for adventure, as well as an opportunity to indulge in his long-held passion for the Antarctic.