Val McDermid Regrets Making Popular Character a Gin Drinker
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‘I Made a Tactical Error’: Scottish Crime Writer Val McDermid Reveals Why She Regrets Making Her Popular Character a Gin Drinker

In a recent interview, Scottish crime writer Val McDermid reveals why she wishes her popular character, Karen Pirie, wasn’t a gin drinker. (Photo: Val McDermid/Facebook)

Val McDermid, the renowned Scottish crime writer behind the popular Karen Pirie book series, has confessed that she wishes she had not made her iconic character Karen Pirie a gin enthusiast. In a recent interview on The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Whisky Talks podcast, McDermid explained the reasoning behind this booze-based regret: she much prefers a good single malt whisky.

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

McDermid noted that readers often assumed that she made Karen Pirie a gin drinker because of her own appreciation for the spirit, leading to her fans frequently gifting her bottles of the juniper spirit. However, the author disclosed that she actually can’t enjoy gin due to an unfortunate drinking experience during her university days, Scottish Field reported.

“I still think it suits her personality, but as a result, I’ve generously been given quite a few bottles of gin,” she told Whisky Talks. “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.”

She mentioned that she had been impressed by the burgeoning gin industry and the wide variety of gins available in Scotland when she initially wrote the Karen Pirie books. Nevertheless, she admitted that she made a “tactical error” by choosing gin as Pirie’s drink of choice, per Scottish Field.

To correct her previous choice, McDermid shared that in her new series, “1979 and 1989,” she made the main character, Allie Burns, a malt whisky drinker, aligning more with her personal preferences.

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Candie Getgen is the managing editor for Gin Raiders. Before immersing herself in the world of spirits journalism, Candie has been many things: a bartender, a literary journal editor, an English teacher — and even a poet. Now, Candie shares her passion for gin with the world and hopes to help others fall in love with it, too (if they haven't already!). When not writing, Candie enjoys sipping a Negroni while drawing or relaxing by the pool with a campy mystery novel.