SCOTTISH crime writer Val McDermid has said she “missed a trick” by making one of her leading women a gin drinker instead of a whisky fan.

The Tartan Noir author, known for hits such as The Distant Echo, said that well-meaning fans send her bottles of gin due to her character Karen Pirie having a taste for it – but even the smell makes McDermid herself “faintly queasy”.

“I do feel that I made a tactical error in making Karen a gin drinker,” the author told the Whisky Talks podcast.

“I still think it suits her personality, but as a result, I've generously been given quite a few bottles of gin.


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“My partner and her colleagues assure me these are lovely, but I can't drink any as I over-indulged to the point of being sick for three days back when I was a student. The very smell still makes me faintly queasy.”

McDermid was talking to a podcast from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), the world’s largest whisky club with some 37,000 members – including the author.

McDermid said: “I’ve always enjoyed a dram, so I missed a trick by not making Karen like our national spirit.

“When I was developing my new series, 1979 and 1989, I took the opportunity to correct this by making the main character Allie Burns a malt whisky drinker.”

Irvine Times:

The Inspector Karen Pirie series has been developed into a TV show starring Outlander's Lauren Lyle (above), with a second season currently in development.

McDermid said that, when writing the books, she had seen the growing gun industry in Scotland and decided to make Pirie a fan of the tipple.

The author was speaking to the SMWS podcast on the 40th anniversary of the club’s founding when she made the comments.

You can listen to the full 22-minute episode at: https://whiskytalk.fireside.fm/64