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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness