This Year It Will Be Different, By Maeve Binchy

If you have never sampled Binchy, this volume of short stories is a good introduction to the easy-going charms of Ireland's most practised storyteller. Set around the Christmas holidays, these neatly plotted tales of festive fall-out offer the private miseries of jilted brides, erring husbands and demanding children.

Claire Beale on Advertising: BBH’s hot-toddy for ailing Johnnie Walker

Johnnie wasn’t well. Really, quite yellow. He was old, but this is one business where age is quality. Still, after 180 years he was going downhill pretty fast and the prognosis was bad.

The Beverage Report: The whisky convert

I've never been a whisky fan. Why discuss the merits of different malts when you could be slamming tequilas? Even the rock-chic of Jack Daniels, often pictured in the grip of Zoë Ball or Sara Cox in the years before ladettes fell out of favour, was ruined for me by the fact that it was my grandmother's tipple.

When is a Scotch not a Scotch? When it is aged in France...

Aged in barrels and distilled from cognac and grape juice in central France, Le Whisky Bercloux is presented to its growing band of fans as a triumphant melding of French and Scottish traditions that produce a spirit from the Highlands which "releases the perfume of French honey".

Preview: Bellowhead, North Devon Folk Festival, Ilfracombe

North Devon fields its first eleven

Diageo pins hopes on brand loyalty

Global drinks giant Diageo lowered its growth forecast yesterday against a background of rising costs and a slowing global economy, as it delivered flat full-year pre-tax profits.

Album: Grantura, In Dreams and Other Stories (Ruffa Lane Records)

As if to prove that Lucky Soul's debut album was no fluke, the charmingly independent Ruffa Lane Records now invites us to put pop prejudice to one side and welcome a self-proclaimed Americana group from the wrong side of the Atlantic.

Tom Waits, Playhouse, Edinburgh

The standing ovation hangs in the air as soon as there are enough people in the venue to engage in one. Tom Waits is one of those infrequently touring artists who inspires such anticipation and more, and has grown men shrieking his name and genuflecting before the stage while the house lights are still up and half the crowd are yet to file in.

Cranachan with raspberries

Serves 4

Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Johnnie Walker, Radio 2 DJ

'Rock'n'roll fuelled my school rebellion'

Whisky reborn as 'the new champagne'

Can single malt, stereotypically the tipple of ageing detectives and Scotch snobs, have street cred? The UK's top brands – and some of our most prominent celebrity drinkers – seem to think so.

Shortbread

Makes about 30 (serve 2-3 per person)

Credit crisis? Will someone please tell the stock market

We've had months of turmoil but the FTSE 100 is only down slightly on the turn of the year. Margareta Pagano and Simon Evans find that the share-index baton has passed to energy and mining groups

Going solo: Mark Hix's on how to launch a restaurant

If you're opening a new restaurant you've got to be bold and think of something different, which is tricky these days as most things have been done.

Album: Son Of Dave, O3 (Kartel)

Benjamin Darvill’s performances as one-man-band Son Of Dave have probably made him a cooler prospect now than when he was in the charts as part of Canadian alt.rockers Crash Test Dummies.

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