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The Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Kingdom Scotland create a fragrant, sweet and spicy, spiritual partnership

The Society Kingdom Collaboration of whisky and perfume

First launched for Christmas 2021, this is a most creative business collaboration to demonstrate how Scotch whisky has inspired and been imaginatively paired with Scottish fragrances.

The partnership between the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Kingdom Scotland celebrates the aromatic synergy between whisky and perfume, both produced through a similar distillation method. The perfumes can be sampled together with the paired whiskies at the Society venues in London, Glasgow and Edinburgh, guided by the knowledgable experts behind the bar. 

The people who said it couldn’t be done were so dull’

Pip Hills, Society Founder.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was established in Edinburgh in 1983 and now has more than 27,000 members and branches around the world. The idea all started in the 1970s, when Pip Hills sampled the delights of whisky drawn straight from the cask – undiluted and unadulterated – and this soon led to the idea of forming a club for whisky lovers. Hence, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), to share whisky in its purest form for those with a passion for flavour. 

Whisky tasting and testing by the expert drinkers at the SMWS, 1992. Pip Hills, centre

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society selects unique single casks and exclusive blends from more than 140 distilleries from Scotland and beyond promoting a new batch of around 20 rare single malt whiskies every month. The team of whisky experts seek out whisky in its purest form with a diversity of flavour and give each bottling a curious, quirky name.

Members enjoy exclusive access to these speciality whiskies through the world’s most colourful whisky club.

The vast collection of specialist bottlings by the SMWS

Imogen Russon-Taylor enjoyed an international career from film studios to drinks companies before moving back to Scotland to work in the Scotch whisky industry. This experience and insight into the delicate crafting of Scotch, soon inspired her to launch her fragrance business, Kingdom Scotland.

Imogen Russon-Taylor and her Kingdom Scotland perfumes

At the University of St. Andrews, she researched historical records of perfumed ingredients and stories of Scottish botanists and plant collectors. Born in 1889, the Scottish botanist Isobel Wylie Hutchison was an adventurous and pioneering explorer who took a 260-mile solo trek across Iceland, later travelling across the Arctic circle into Greenland and Alaska where she collected floral and grass samples for the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh and Kew. A biography about her life is poetically called, ‘Flowers in the Snow.’

Isabel Wylie Hutchison – Botanist and Arctic explorer

With this background knowledge, Imogen selected and foraged specific plants, flowers and botanicals to create a range of luxury perfumes – unisex, sustainable, ethical and crafted in Scotland.

“It’s the landscape, the history and elemental weather. If I could bottle that in scents, such as gorse on the way to the beach and its coconut notes, I thought it would be an amazing Scottish brand.”

Imogen Russon-Taylor

The ancient craft of distilling whisky also links into the Scottish environment – the heritage, culture and wild terrain of lochs, forests and mountain peaks.

Whisky is in the business of “bottling Scotland” across the distinctly different distillery regions from Lowland to Speyside, Highland to Islay.

“Bottling Scotland” in a whisky barrel

The Laphroaig 10 year old single malt is for instance poetically described as “no other aroma so perfectly encapsulates the island. Peat reek, soft oak, craggy coastline, screeching gulls. .. in a glass.” 

Just a sniff of this dram will certainly transport you to Islay.

Words used to capture the complex scent and potent taste of whisky are certainly wide ranging: citrus, floral, woodland, seashore, BBQ, bonfire, spice, hazelnut, chocolate, dried fruit, cheese, Christmas Cake et al.

Experience the fragrant aroma before the first sip

Just like testing a perfume on one’s wrist or a card, we first need to “nose” a whisky as 95% of ‘flavours’ are in fact the whiff of the aroma.

The tantalising taste of a fine single malt lingers on the tongue just like a splash of scent on the skin. The sense of smell indeed lingers in the mind, engrained in the remembrance of things past.

In similar fashion, Imogen was keen to ‘bottle Scotland’ in her hand crafted scents: ‘ to transport you to a memory, a place, a moment in time. I want to create that “sense of place” in my fragrances’.

“Bottling Scotland” in a perfume

A Sensory Experience event at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Edinburgh, gave the marvellous, magical opportunity to take an aromatic journey linking whisky and perfume and vice versa.

Metamorphic Eau de parfum is influenced by Imogen’s love of Ardbeg and other Islay single malts, reflecting the layered, crystalline rock formations of the Highlands and Islands formed around 400 million years ago.

Fragrance notes:

Top – Black Pepper & Tobacco
Heart – Incense, Minerals, Islay Malt & Dark Rose
Base –  (as the scent warms on the skin), Amber resin & Leather

Such a rich smoky peat and lingering tobacco scent and oh so masculine with the underlying tones of leather seats of a vintage classic car.

This Kingdom Scotland perfume has been expertly paired by the experts at the SMWS with their Lightly Peated collection, a flavour profile blending fragrant Parma Violet/rose/ freesia floral notes and smoky wood ash.

Peat fire tales on Orkney (Highland Park, 1st fill Oloroso butt).

As described by the whisky ambassador, expect fish and chips, blood orange, smoky peat fire, lime salt, honey, and altogether smooth and well balanced.

The Taste Test:

Nose: oak, sherry sweetness, juicy raisins, vanilla, coffee  

Taste: a teardrop of water to open up the flavour: a seashore briney breeze, dark sherry, roasted coffee beans, dried fruit, hazelnuts, caramel, woodsmoke  

Finish:  warm spice, nutmeg, ginger, raisins, espresso coffee and oozing with campfire smokiness.   

Portal Eau de parfum is inspired by the Caledonian forests on the Ardnamurchan peninsula with the pungent scent of Scots pine and lichen, herbaceous botanicals and bergamot to evoke the experience of being out in the fresh country air.  

Fragrance notes:

Top –  Herbaceous botanicals & bergamot
Heart – Verdant flora
Base – Vetiver, bark & Scots Pine

This clearly bottles the sensory experience of a woodland walk after the rain in spring or summer and Vetiver oil is said to be calming for meditation and relaxation.  

Portal is matched with a whisky from the SMWS Juicy Oak & Vanilla flavour profile range: honeysuckle, coriander seed, juicy fruits, chocolate-coated cherries, passion fruit and pineapple sorbet, such as Summer Garden Curiosity and Day Sipper.

Day Sipper. (Linkwood, Speyside, 1st fill Bourbon barrel)

As described: big, robust, cherry, juicy, sweet, playful – an anytime, daytime dram. 

Nose: fresh cut grass, floral fragrance, leafy, oatmeal, hint of honey

Taste: soft stone fruits, (plum, damson), rose blossom, tree bark, moss, honey, coconut, citrus notes

Finish: Earl Grey and herbal tea, orange, vanilla, almonds, marzipan.

Imogen Russon-Taylor – with her whisky inspired perfumes at the SMWS

This is indeed the ultimate sensory experience: sip, taste and smell the natural fragrance of Scotch whisky afresh through the art of perfumery.

This innovative, cultural and truly spiritual collaboration between the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and Kingdom Scotland allows us to appreciate even more how the seductive aroma of spirit and scent capture the romantic, wild, natural landscape of Scotland in a contemporary way.

The SMWS, The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh

The Scottish Malt Whisky Society

The original HQ is The Vaults in Leith, Edinburgh where it all started nearly 40 years ago, then developed with club premises on Queen Street, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London.  There are now 27,000 members and branches around the world – Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and the US.

Belonging to the world’s most entertaining whisky club gives access to exclusive Members’ Rooms, a network of global partner bars, tasting events, whisky education and a monthly members’ magazine Unfiltered.

The Members’ Lounge Bar, SMWS, Queen Street, Edinburgh

Visit one of the Society venues in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, where you can sample the expertly selected whiskies across the flavour profiles together with the associated perfumes. These unisex fragrances are the perfect gift combined with a bottle of the paired Single Malt for the whisky lover.

As a unique and exclusive luxury brand, the Kingdom Scotland perfumes are available at Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Les Senteurs, Gleneagles and The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh.

https://smws.com/about

https://kingdomscotland.com

Portal inspired by the forests on Ardnamurchan peninsula

The French Film Festival is back with Screen Horizons@ Summerhall, January to April 2022. 

The French Film Festival UK is the only festival dedicated to and embracing French and Francophone cinema in all its diversityInstead of waiting until November, an inspiring season of French and Francophone cinema comes to Summerhall from 30 January to 17 April, 2022.

Presenting a diverse range of films for all ages, from award-winners to new talent, classics to documentaries and animation.  Several will be accompanied by introductions, Q&As and talks by leading experts in film and French culture.

The courtyard beer garden and Royal Dick pub at Summerhall Arts Venue

With the easing of restrictions, we’re delighted to be able to offer Summerhall screenings in the newly re-equipped Red studio theatre with its Seventies’ vibe. Audiences will have the chance to catch up with French Film Festival titles they may have missed the first time around. The programme really does have something for everyone.”

Richard Mowe, Director, French Film Festival UK

The comfortable, intimate Arthouse cinema at Summerhall

Summerhall, located near the Meadows, is a well established and popular visual arts and performance venue, – with a pub, brewery and gin distillery on site too – a buzzing cultural centre year round with exhibitions, drama, music, films and, in August, Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows.

And what must be the best kept secret, a brand new cinema opened here in October 2021!  

The Red Lecture Theatre was previously used for the Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Cinefile, French Film Festival and Cinematic, shows films every weekend as well as special events.  The revamped cinema was financed from the Screen Scotland’s Cinema Equipment Fund, featuring Dolby 5.1 surround sound and DCP projection and is the only cinema on the southside of Edinburgh.  Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the venue screens new releases, independent films, modern horror, retrospectives and world cinema.

The French Film Festival UK presents Screen Horizons@ Summerhall.

As Valentine’s Day 2022 fell on a Monday, there is still time for a delicious sweet taste of romance on Sunday 20 February with a 3pm matinee screening of Love Affair(s).  

The French title, ‘Les Choses qu’on dit, les chose qu’on fait’  is translated as ‘The Things We Say, the Things We Do,’ a classic brief encounter tale of two strangers thrown together by chance, set against the lush green French countryside. Exploring their notions of what real love is, the chemistry between Daphne and Maxime is viewed with authenticity, elegance and compassion. Directed by Emmanuel Mouret, the film has been described as a more serious Love Actually, pitching between the philosophical and farcical.

Neils Schneider and Camelia Jordana in Love Affair (s)

This really sounds like a smash hit with rave reviews, awards and accolades:

Best Film nomination, Césars 2021.

Rotten Tomatoes – Critics score,100%

‘ Mouret channels a cacophony of beating hearts in an effortless conversation about the universal trappings of love and monogamy’.

‘A complex romantic drama which twists and turns at every juncture’.

Later that afternoon on 20 February at 5.30pm is Hello World! (Bonjour Le Monde!) for adults and children alike. With perfect topicality in the race to save the planet, this is a whimsical animated study of our fragile ecosystem.  How is a bird born, why does one come into the world as an insect, mammal or fish?

Hand crafted papier-mâché puppets with a colourfully painted backdrop interpret the life and habitats of a pike, beaver, bat, salamander, turtle, dragonfly and several birds to illustrate the amazing spectacle of the natural world.

An enchanting scene from Hello World!

And here a few more highlights over the next couple of months:

Oh Mercy! / Roubaix, une lumière (Sunday 27 February, 15.00)

A fictionalised adaptation of the 2008 French TV documentary Roubaix commissariat central, which followed a police officer and his colleagues in Roubaix, near Lille, as they deal with the shocking homicide of an elderly woman. The investigation has real authenticity to create a riveting, compassionate drama and among the potential suspects are the neighbours who report the crime, Claude and Marie.  Grégoire Hetzel’s sombre soundtrack creates a suitably chilling Bernard Herrmann, (Psycho, Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver), mood and ambience. 

Engrossing and well worth checking out’. Time Out

Simply Black / Tout simplement noir  (Sunday 6 March, 17.00/Sunday 13 March, 15.00)

Jean-Pascal Zadi’s feature debut follows, JP, an actor and activist (played by Zadi himself) who, tired of the bigotry and racism in France, decides to organize a “Black Man’s March” to raise awareness in Paris. The politically incorrect satire is essentially a mockumentary through a series of dramatic, often hilarious misadventures. By exploring how racism remains a serious issue in France, Zadi questions whether the motto ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ is more of an ideal than a universal truth. 

An extraordinary comedic work of lilt and sparkle’. The New Yorker

Jean Pascal Zadi stars in his mockumentary political satire, Simply Black

Léon Morin, Priest / Leon Morin, prêtre: (Sunday 10 April, 17.30/ Sunday 17 April, 15.00)

The French Film Festival always includes a classic programme of vintage movies which are always a joy and here is another classic in Screen Horizons.  

In 1961, a year after appearing in Breathless, Jean-Paul Belmondo starred as Léon Morin, Priest, playing a devoted man of the cloth who attracts all the women in a small village in Nazi-occupied France.  Holy but human, he finds himself drawn to a widow—played by Emmanuelle Riva—a religious skeptic. Sparse yet utterly convincing in period detail, this is a potent study of desire, religion and politics.

Belmondo is masterly at embodying how Morin uses his charisma and surly, forthright charm. Riva’s emotional vitality powers the story with an oscillating vibrancy .. the accumulation of small expressive touches is as exact and suggestive as a pointillist masterpiece’. Deep Focus review

Adolescents / Adolescentes  (Sunday 17 April, 17.30)

Emma and Anaïs are best friends and yet everything in their life seems to set them apart – from their social backgrounds to their personalities. Five years in the making, Adolescentes is a remarkable achievement, charting the lives of the two girls from the age of 13 to 18 as they grow into maturity. Things turn more emotive when the personal meets the political during key moments in French history from the Paris attacks to the election of Emmanuel Macron.  

Melancholic and graceful, ‘ ….capturing moments of aesthetic bliss  ..comparisons to Richard Linklaters 12-year narrative ‘Boyhood’ are evident.Hollywood Reporter

For the full Screen Horizons programme of films, trailers, dates and tickets – https://frenchfilmfestival.org.uk/2021/front-page/screen-horizons/

Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI.

The 30th anniversary edition of the French Film Festival will run in November and December 2022, as always touring numerous towns and cities across the UK, as well as an online programme. Keep up to date with all news of this special celebratory year.

https://frenchfilmfestival.org.uk/2021/

‘Hotel to Home’ by Sophie Bush: the story of how traditional industrial design has inspired cool, contemporary décor.

This lavishly illustrated book takes the armchair traveller on a global journey to peek inside the most original revamped buildings from Berlin to Cape Town, Chicago to London, Sydney to Singapore: destinations for design enthusiasts. Sophie Bush is the founder of Warehouse Home, a biannual magazine and interior design service,  specialising in the industrial aesthetic for bold, contemporary style. 

When I travel, I hope to be inspired. Wherever I go, I try to stay in hotels with authentic stories and exceptional interiors. I am always looking for new ideas.”

Sophie Bush

The recent evolution of hotel design is fascinating.  Finding American hotels too large, old fashioned and impersonal, compared to his travels in Europe, Bill Kimpton opened the first, so called, Boutique hotel in 1981, The Bedford, San Francisco.  Three years later, Ian Schrager followed suit, launching Morgans on Madison Avenue, NYC, the first of a worldwide collection. Their respective vision was all about creative design & local culture, cocktail bars and modern cuisine, in-house music with personal attention from haute couture dressed staff.  Distinctive, desirable places to eat, drink, socialise, sleep, dream.

If the buzz words today are conservation and sustainability, then the re-imagining of disused factories and warehouses to create unusual Boutique hotels and private residences is a brilliant solution to preserve urban architectural heritage.  

This book features forty unique hotels, their stunning industrial architecture creatively preserved where steel structures, wooden beams and concrete walls now offer exciting and atmospheric places to stay with bold style and vintage vibe.

Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.’

Frank Gehry

The Titanic Hotel, Liverpool – a former rum factory

Formerly an old rum factory built in 1848, The Titanic Hotel, Liverpool overlooks Stanley Dock and is named after the legendary ship which was christened and set sail to New York from the city in 1912.  Now its exposed red bricked walls, iron columns and vaulted ceilings retain a sense of the its ‘spiritual’ history, juxtaposed with leather, tweed and wool furnishings.

A spacious suite in the Titanic Hotel

Soho House Chicago is a converted belt and leather tannery (1907). Now the vast concrete warehouse has been converted into a ‘Hip and happening’ private Club, full of impressive art work including by Damien Hirst.  The magnificent Drawing room has spacious soft velvet booths, chandeliers and polished parquet flooring.

Soho House, Chicago – the Drawing Room

The long forgotten 19th century Pearl Brewery is the charming, characterful setting for Hotel Emma, San Antonio, Texas, named after the heroic Prohibition era owner, which preserves the machinery, brickwork and distressed plasterwork with ‘timeless elegance.’ Furnished with Moroccan kilim rugs and leather armchairs, this is the place to chill out and sip a Texan craft beer.

Gorgeous George is an intimate, homely 32 bedroom, Boutique hotel in the inner city district of Cape Town, converted from two Art Deco and Edwardian buildings: wood panelling, brass and copper pipes with smart white tiles in the classic bathrooms.  As a cultural, arty, local hub, it’s described as “a living room for the neighbourhood.’

Gorgeous George – concrete, wood and leather materials decorate the bar and restaurant

The magnificent Zeitz Mocaa Museum, Cape Town showcasing African art, fashion and design, is located within a former grain Silo (1921) and its innovative restoration by the Heatherwick Studio, London, won a Global tourism award in 2019 from the British Guild of Travel Writers.  

The Silo Hotel entrance preserves the industrial heritage

On the top six floors above the Museum is the Silo Hotel with 18 foot windows for spectacular views over to Table Mountain and the Bay. The décor is a charming blend of Asian and European antiques, silk and velvet fabrics and African artwork. Stay in one of the 28 guestrooms including a Penthouse, all individually designed, and relax in the rooftop Bar.

The roof top bar at The Silo, overlooking Table Mountain

We created interiors to complement the stark industrial architecture with stylish, comfortable, decorative elements.”

Liz Biden, The Silo, Royal Portfolio Hotels.

A former United Artists Film Company office is now the address of the Ace Hotel Downtown, Los Angeles, a 1920s Gothic building partly inspired by Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, Barcelona. Preserving the original structure, the décor focuses on Californian and Mexican culture and design – The Best Girl restaurant is named after the first movie screened at the UA theatre in 1927.

Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles

The range of former industrial buildings is richly eclectic such as a former Cheese-making factory converted into the Ace Hotel, Chicago. The design concept is Bauhaus with bold, clean lines, plywood panels and chrome tubing, with a black, white and grey palette. The Bar has scenic views over the city skyline.

Ace Hotel, Chicago – a dramatic shower room

Clerkenwell, London is a buzzing neighbourhood of pubs, restaurants and creative businesses where The Zetter. Reminiscent of the slender shape of the Flatiron, NYC, the eco-friendly conversion of this Victorian warehouse retained sash windows, sourced vintage furniture and created a light-filled atrium with a changing showcase of art and sculpture. Rooftop rooms and a split level, circular Suite with private terraces offer panoramic views.

The Zetter, Clerkenwell

This is just a selection of the iconic hotels in unusual places – a former sugar mill in China, a Swedish power station and an 18th century garment factory in Paris – each preserving distinctive architectural features complemented with period or modern furnishings and artistic décor.  

As the title of the book suggests, Hotel to Home focuses on the designs, fabrics, material and use of space – bedrooms, bathrooms – to inspire the reader to add a touch of industrial chic to their own environment.  During nearly two years of lockdown, many of us working from home, we have been keen to decorate and design rooms afresh.

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

William Morris

Chapters on residential Real Homes, such as Manhattan loft apartments, illustrate how to blend painted brickwork and raw concrete walls, tiles and timber for the weird and wonderful warehouse aesthetic.  Read all about mixing and matching raw materials for texture and colour. Terrazzo (a blend of marble, glass and quartz chippings) looks so effective for snazzy kitchen worktops and bathroom floors.

Whether a hotel or a home, the clever juxtaposition of hard steel and wood materials softened by velvet draped sofas and a splash of bold primary colours creates a dazzling, dramatic look.  There are suggestions for paintings, prints and statement, photorealistic wallpapers to jazz up a room with street art, abstract rugs or ‘paint- splattered’ fabrics. Great ideas too on book shelves, office space, how to create a feature bed, bathrooms, kitchen layout and the most appropriate lights and lamps for each room. 

This is not a travel guide.

It is a design manual filled with ideas for achieving hotel chic industrial style at home.” 

Sophie Bush

Well, I would say this book is an inspirational collection of desirable, unusual places to stay with bold and beautiful bedrooms, sleek bathrooms, smart bars, velvet draped sofas and quirky artwork offering a fabulous, fashionable home away from home.

Since 1981, the Kimpton brand continues to revolutionise hotel living. As a travel writer, reviewing luxury hotels, I have stayed in the revamped, uber-cool and contemporary Kimpton Charlotte Square, Edinburgh which offers a leisurely, liveable, home environment (Edinburgh Hotel of the Year 2020). Also love the classy Kimpton Blythswood, Glasgow, named Luxury Brand hotel, 2020.

I recently visited the majestic Kimpton Clocktower, Manchester, which was named recently in the Sunday Times as one of the best 100 hotels in the UK.  Formerly, the Refuge Assurance Company (1890), the hotel features Victorian red brickwork, ceramic tiles and stained glass as well as the fun and funky Refuge cocktail bar.  

And also in Manchester is the most exciting, new Moxy, Spinningfields, an “experiential,” nine storey hotel clad in weathered metal panels over the original façade retained from the former Hat factory. Bar Moxy and the social atrium space has a modern, industrial feel, with local-inspired artwork, curated Manchester illustrations and illuminated signs across the lobby. 

“There are two things that make a room timeless: a sense of history and a piece of the future.”

Charlotte Moss

You don’t need to live in a former factory or brewery to jazz up the atmosphere, ambience and style of your home whether it’s Victorian, Edwardian, 1930s or 60s et al. It’s all about architecture, function, comfort, décor and design to enhance original features and embrace your personal lifestyle.

‘Hotel to Home’ is an inspirational guide for interior design provides expert advice on finding salvaged materials, vintage curios, recycled furniture and artwork to create an individual sense of place, space and heritage.  A helpful comprehensive list of architects, designers and stockists is given at the end of the book.  

This is a timely, important story of renaissance, restoration and renewal of historic buildings, re-imagined with cool, contemporary design, practicality and purpose.

Hotel to Home: Industrial Interiors inspired by the world’s most original hotels

By Sophie Bush

Published by Warehouse Home, hardback £30.

ISBN: 978-1-527226-51-7.

www.mywarehousehome.com

(Reviewers note: Hotel to Home is a coffee table book designed like a glossy magazine with superb illustrations. However, apart from a larger typeface for chapter summaries, the font size of the main text is miniscule, and to read the Contents page, one almost needs a magnifying glass. There is an alphabetical list of hotels at the end but no page numbers. )

Bedroom with claw foot bath in Gorgeous George, Cape Town

Enjoy a hearty, homely dish of Macsween haggis and sip a Benriach dram (or two) this Burns’ Night. Slainte Mhath!

Robert Burns 1759 – 1796

Benriach Whisky distillery and Macsween of Edinburgh are collaborating to present what they hope will be the largest virtual Burns supper on 25th January, 2022 to unite people from across the globe to celebrate the legendary bard’s life and work.

Rachel Barrie, master blender of Benriach Single Malt Scotch Whisky and James Macsween will bring together traditional food and drink from their two Scottish companies.  

In the 1890s, John Duff, a true whisky entrepreneur decided to build his new distillery on a small hill, or ‘Ben,’ on the site of the old Riach farm in Speyside, and so the Benriach Distillery was founded in 1898.  In the 1990s, Benriach began making small batches of triple distilled spirit to enhance the fruity, multi-layered character, developing a range of classic, peated and triple cask distinctive single malt whiskies.

In March 2017 Dr. Rachel Barrie became Master Blender for The GlenDronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh group of distilleries. Known as the ‘First Lady of Scotch’ for her artistry and expertise, she has received many most prestigious accolades, is a ‘Keeper of the Quaich’ and a member of the Whisky Magazine’s ‘Hall of Fame’. Rachel is responsible for developing, testing and expertly fine-tuning the whisky flavour at Benriach.

Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master blender

‘My ambition has always been to unlock the secrets of Scotch whisky making and provenance, to develop and nurture richness of character and celebrate it with the world.’

Dr. Rachel Barrie

Charlie Macsween worked for William Orr & Sons, an Edinburgh butcher, poulterer and game dealer in the 1940s where he met his wife, Jean and in 1953 they founded the Macsween butchers shop in the district of Bruntsfield. The family business has been handed down three generations, (today managed by James and Jo Macsween), renowned for haggis and vegetarian haggis and exported worldwide.

The world famous Macsween haggis

So let’s sample two of the Benriach signature single malt whiskies.

The Original Ten is three-cask matured for at least ten years in bourbon barrels, sherry casks and virgin oak, creating layers of fruit, honeyed malt and toasted oak with a subtle trace of smoke.

Benriach The Original Ten – Distillery notes:

Colour: Summer Gold

Nose: Orchard fruit, honey and toasted oak

Palate: Ripe pear, nectarine and malt sweetness, with a finishing note of almond and spiced vanilla, on a base of vanilla cream and pastry.  A hint of smoke.

Silver Medal 2021: San Francisco World Spirits Competition

The Taste Test:

Nose:  Fresh floral, stone fruits, dried fruit soaked in sherry, gingersnaps, clove, vanilla

Palate:  A rich sweetness, Honeydew melon, pears, barley sugar, caramel, stewed cooking apples creating sweet-sour notes with an underlying hint of salt; almonds, marzipan, cinnamon, vanilla, dried and candied fruits.

Finish:  The sweet and spicy Christmas cake notes linger with a hint of orange peel. Malty and oaty akin to a sweet porridge with lingering almond notes.

The Smoky Ten was launched in 2020 to show off the distillery’s skill at working with peated malt. Master blender Dr. Rachel Barrie and her team created this expression using whisky matured for at least ten years in bourbon barrels, toasted virgin oak casks and Jamaican rum casks. The whisky is then combined to create smooth layers of sunripe fruit, aromatic smoke and toasted oak spice for a balanced sweet and smoky finish.

Benriach The Smoky Ten – distillery notes

Colour: Bright gold

Nose: Ripe orchard fruit syrup, smoked honey glaze and oak spice

Taste: Smoked applewood, honey maple and spiced pear finishing with lingering fruit and smoked oak

Smoke level: Rich

Double Gold Medal 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition

The Taste Test:

Nose:  Stone fruits, (apricot, peach) and tropical fruits (pineapple and mango), aromatic bonfire smoke, treacle

Palate:  Molasses, dark Rum, woodchip smokiness (smoked salmon without the fishyness), the whiff of bonfire rather than peak reek.  Then the underlying fruitness, apples, pears, kiwi, blackberries, earthy, vegetal herbs and nutmeg spice.

Finish:  beautifully balanced rum and smoky peat flavour, sweet and spicy, citrus tang, vanilla and toasted barley.  As described in previous reviews, this is ‘A Summer BBQ in a glass,’ to be savoured at any time – especially on Burns Night.

The creative art of the cocktails will jazz up a traditional dram for party ambience. Benriach suggests two delicious tipples for Burns’ Night, such as a simple, sparkling Highball.

Highball

50ml Benriach The Original Ten and top up with soda.

Stir gently over ice and garnish with an orange slice.

The Benriach Highball

Penicillin 

This is based on the classic Hot Toddy recipe with lemon and honey, so called for its healthy, medicinal ingredients and the Smoky Ten adds a peaty warmth.

25ml The Original Ten, 25ml The Smoky Ten, 20ml fresh lemon juice, 20ml honey – ginger syrup

Shake all the ingredients with ice, then strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Top with ginger ale and garnish with lemon peel or candied inger.

The Benriach Penicilin

Alternatively, what could be more appropriate than the Robert Burns, a variation of the Rob Roy. If absinthe gives too much of a kick, add Pernod instead.

The Robert Burns cocktail

Robert Burns

50ml Benriach The Smoky Ten, 20ml sweet vermouth, Dash of orange bitters, Dash of absinthe or Pernod.

Add the whisky, vermouth, orange bitters and plenty ice to a cocktail shaker. Strain into a martini glass or coupe then add the dash of absinthe (or Pernod). Serve with shortbread if you have a sweet tooth.

‘Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!’

From ‘Address To a Haggis’, Robert Burns.

The biggest myth of all is that haggis originated and belongs only to Scotland but in fact is an ancient, global dish. Going back thousands of years when hunters returned with their kill, as well as eating the meat, the fresh offal would be chopped and mixed with cereal and herbs and cooked over the fire.

So why is haggis so closely associated with Scotland? Robert Burns wrote his eight-verse poem, ‘Address to a Haggis’ to honour his favourite dish, which would have been a regular, cheap family meal in his day. After his death in 1796, a group of friends organised a Burns Supper to commemorate his birthday on 25th January. The tradition of Burn’s Night featuring the traditional toast to the haggis and a dram of whisky or two, continues to this day from Scotland to North America and Russia et al.

The Macsween haggis is a mixture of lamb, beef, oats, onions and spices like an oaty, spicy mince and a great source of iron and fibre and still based on grandfather’s original recipe.  Their Vegetarian haggis is a combination of onions, carrots, swede, mushrooms, kidney beans, lentils, seeds and spices. Approved by the vegetarian society, it is suitable for vegans.  

Haggis is usually served with neeps and tatties, (mashed turnip and potato). As I do not eat meat, Macsween Vegetarian haggis is simply superb, a fine blend of healthy vegetables and pulses with a warming spiciness – simply the best!

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a
Haggis!

From “Address to the Haggis’ Robert Burns

James Macsween and Dr. Rachel Barrie will host a virtual Burns Supper on 25th January 2022.

Join in a worldwide celebration of Robert Burns’s 262nd birthday and raise a glass to the Scottish Bard in traditional manner. 

Dr. Rachel Barrie and James Macsween will co-host this special virtual Burns’s Supper – a Waitrose event with Benriach Single Malt Scotch Whisky & Macsween of Edinburgh.

https://experiences.johnlewis.com/events/burns-night-with-benriach-single-malt-scotch-whisky-macsween-of-edinburgh-223937221257

Slainte Mhath!

https://www.benriachdistillery.com/en-gb/our-whiskies/

https://www.macsween.co.uk

Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes by Robert Louis Stevenson – an enchanting, personal memoir exploring the city’s culture and heritage.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

“Stevenson’s writing strikes the twenty-first century ear as still being fresh and intensely readable … we are in the company of an agreeable and relaxed guide giving us an anecdotal run-down on Edinburgh over a cup of coffee or lunch.”

Alexander McCall Smith

Novelist, poet and travel writer, Robert Louis Stevenson first published Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes in 1878, (revised 1889). This attractive new edition has been published by Manderley Press, a new indie publisher founded by Rebeka Russell, focusing on forgotten or out-of-print books which feature a memorable house, place or landmark.  The books will be small hardbacks, quarter-bound in cloth and printed on high quality paper. Cover artwork will be available to buy as prints.

Rebeka Russell, founder of the Manderley Press

I have always loved books, art, travel and old houses, so when lockdown happened, I decided the time was perfect to set up Manderley Press. Armchair travel and literary escapism had never seemed so important!” Rebeka Russell

Most appropriately, the name ‘Manderley’ is taken from the classic romantic novel, ‘Rebecca.’ “I could swear that the house was not an empty shell but lived and breathed as it had lived before.”  Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca.

The first book selected for the Manderley Collection is ‘Edinburgh’ featuring decorative artwork by Iain McIntosh (as shown here on the front cover), with a marvellous Introduction by Alexander McCall Smith, who is renowned for his popular and most amusing novels set in the city (44 Scotland Street, Isabel Dalhousie).

McCall Smith begins with succinct biographical background explaining that having studied engineering (to join his family clan of lighthouse designers) and then law, RLS wisely followed his literary vocation as an excellent storyteller.

 ‘Stevenson found Edinburgh such a rich source of inspiration for his writing. This is a walk through parts of the city that have survived to this day as they were during his lifetime.

Vintage drawing of Heriot Row, the family home in the New Town

If we were to stroll down Heriot Row with him today, there would be no surprises for him when we reached No. 17, although he might not have expected a plaque.’

RLS moved here with his family in 1857 when he was seven. From the nursery window, he loved to watch the lamplighter, the Leerie, switch on the gas lamps every evening.

17 Heriot Row, with a stone plaque beside the door and brass sign on lamp-post

McCall Smith describes how much the city inspired him from his childhood, frequently ill in his bedroom, looking out over Queen Street Gardens. As young man he explored the streets, taverns, monuments, rivers and hills, fascinated by ancient history, legendary myths and cultural heritage.

“It is at times a prose poem. It is a stream of conscious memoir about living in a town so gorgeously romantic it could be an opera set; it is a love song to a city.”

Robert Louis Stevenson, painted by John Singer Sargent (1887)

This personal Memoir is divided into ten chapters, taking the reader on a journey to Stevenson’s favourite haunts as well as describing seasonal weather and festivities. RLS appreciates how the magic of Edinburgh gets under your skin – “ the place establishes an interest in people’s hearts; go where they will they find no city of the same distinction.’

Edinburgh – his home city was a life long, literary inspiration

What a clashing of architecture! Greek temples, Venetian palaces and gothic spires are huddled one over the another..  the Castle and the summit of Arthur’s Seat look down with a becoming dignity.

This is a city set up on a hill, he explains, dominated by the Castle with its open view to sea and land.  

Tourists love to stroll down the Royal Mile from the Castle to the Palace of Holryroodhouse as did Stevenson to see St. Giles Cathedral, Parliament Close and the High Court spotting “ an advocate in wig and gown and a tide of lawyers.” (just as you will see today).

He is especially shocked by the social inequality between the overcrowded tenements, families living in a ‘huge human beehive’ in the Medieval Old Town, in contrast to the wealthy citizens in their grand houses on Heriot Row and Moray Place et al. around the Georgian-Victorian New Town.

‘The human Beehive’ – the high skyscraper tenements in the Old Town

Chapter Four is Legends, illustrated with a drawing of a man in a blindfold and bow tie with a hangman’s noose in the background – Deacon Brodie, a respected city councillor and cabinet maker by day but a thief by night – whose secret double life sparked the novel, ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’.

Edinburgh may be haunted by ghostly tales of grave diggers and murder but this is a “city of churches .. a clamour of bells upon the Sabbath morning in one swelling, brutal babblement of noise”.  Babblement! – Stevenson’s rich language is inventive and colourfully poetic. 

RLS was inspired by the stone carved tombs of the moody, gothic Greyfriars Kirkyard. More than a century later, J. K. Rowling followed in his footsteps to borrow a few names on the gravestones – Potter, Riddell, Scrimgeour, McGonagall, – now resurrected as her famous fictional characters.

Greyfriars Kirkyard – a gothic moody place of ghosts and gravestones

The symmetrical grand design of the New Town features spacious crescents, round circuses, and private gardens. This sounds like the writer is standing on the corner of Heriot Row and the steep hill of Dundas Street with a view of Fife: “It is surprising to see a perspective of a mile or more of falling street and beyond that woods, villas, a blue arm of sea and the hills upon the further side.” 

The view across to Fife from the corner of Heriot Row and Dundas Street

RLS takes a walk to the Dean Bridge over the Water of Leith where “carriages go spinning by and ladies with card cases pass to and fro about the duties of society” (elegant 19th century ladies who lunch!).

He recalls outdoor adventures as a schoolboy with a love of nature: “many an escalade of garden walls, a ramble among lilacs  .. when the Spring comes round, the hawthorn begins to flower and the meadows smell of young grass”.

Calton Hill has hardly changed since Stevenson’s day with the Athens of the North  ‘Parthenon’, Lord Nelson’s monument and Observatory. “Of all places for a view, Calton Hill is the best, since you can see the Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Palace, Princes Street, Leith, the Firth. It is the place to stroll on one of those days of sunshine.”

Calton Hill with views over the city and across the Firth of Forth to Fife

In the chapter, Winter and New Year, RLS embraces the Scotch dialect to describe the cold wind – “snell, blae and scowthering, words which carry a shiver with them.” But there’s nothing cosier than an old pub, “the warm atmosphere of tavern parlours and the revelery of lawyers’ clerks.”

He finds a painterly beauty in the winter chill. “We enjoy superb sunsets, the profile of the city stamped in indigo upon a sky of luminous green.”

The New Year festive season in Edinburgh is listed in the book, ‘1,000 Places to See before you Die,’ attracting thousands of global visitors to join in the Hogmanay Street Party with music and fireworks.   

For RLS too, it was “the great national festival, a time of deep carousel, musicians, whisky and shortbread, singing Auld Lang Syne”. 

Hogmanay in Edinburgh: fireworks from Edinburgh Castle at midnight

He remembers student days at Edinburgh University enjoying “heroic snowballing – skating and sliding on Duddingston Loch – reminiscent of the iconic painting of Reverend Robert Walker by Henry Raeburn (c.1795).

Reverend Robert Walker by Sir Henry Raeburn

While he is fond of the city streets and sociable lifestyle, he would often escape to the rural tranquility of the Pentlands, Fairmilehead for a walk beside rivers and rolling hills, “a bouquet of old trees, a white farmhouse,  the bleating of flocks… a field of wild heathery peaks”.

The Pentland hills, to the south side of Edinburgh

After many journeys far and wide, Robert Louis Stevenson left his family home in 1887 for the last time, sailed to New York, toured America and from San Francisco he and his wife Fanny chartered a schooner to cruise the South Seas. In 1890 they settled on the island of Upolo where he adopted the Samoan name, Tusitala, the Teller of Tales.

Stevenson would never forget his emotional attachment to the city of his birth, as he wrote in this memoir of Picturesque Notes.

“ There is no Edinburgh emigrant, far or near, from China to Peru, but he or she carries some lively pictures of the mind, some sunset behind the Castle cliffs, some snow scene, some maze of city lamps, indelible in the memory.” 

https://www.manderleypress.com/home

https://www.manderleypress.com/shop/p/edinburgh

Note: I would like to suggest that a decorative ribbon bookmark would enhance the design and the leisurely experience of reading these classic books by Manderley Press. 

The addition of photographs and imagery in this feature are to offer background information and colourful illustration only.

Wishing you a cool, crisp, sparkling Festive season with Codorníu Cava and Vida Wines

Codorniu is probably one of the UK’s most recognisable Cava labels and no wonder. As the pioneer winemakers behind the first ever bottle of Cava, this is the oldest Spanish winery celebrating over 450 years of cultural heritage with the famous C Logo as the iconic image.

In 1551 Jaume Codorníu founded his family wine making business producing still wines; the marriage between the heiress Anna Codorníu and winegrower Miquel Raventós in 1659 brought two wine dynasties together but Anna’s surname was retained as the brand name.

The Codornuiu family vineyards, near Barcelona

Two centuries later, Josep Raventós Fatjó came back to Spain from a fact-finding research trip around France and, copying the production method of French Champagne, created his own brand of sparkling wine.  He ordered a cave (or cava in Catalan) to be built, a labyrinth of underground cellars to store wines for fermentation at a constant, cool temperature. 

In 1872, he produced his first bottle of Cava using the same traditional method as Champagne, using a blend of native grape varieties of Penedès: Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada.

The underground cellars to store the wine for fermentation and ageing

Manuel Raventós was an early drinks entrepreneur, keen to develop Cava as a successful business. In 1895 he made plans to build a new building at the winery with the Art Nouveau artist, Josep Puig i Cadafalch in charge of design and construction.  

The Codorniu Art Nouveau House of Cava

When it opened in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia near Barcelona in 1915, Cavas Codorníu became a Catalan Modernist artistic symbol of the company’s enterprising spirit and vision of the future.

Vintage advertising for Codorniu Cava in the late 19th century

Marketing Champagne Codorniu was most inspired with 1898 artistic posters by Ramon Casas.  Codorníu was also first advertised on Spanish Television in 1959 – once again a pioneering commerical promotion ahead of the game. 

In 1976 the Codorníu House of Cava was named a National Historic Artistic Monument by King Juan Carlos.

The first and very fashionable Catalan Cava launched in 1872

Since its earliest days, Raventós Codorníu winery has been synonymous with innovation and quality, using premium grapes from the family vineyard estate. The traditional method involves two fermentations of the grape juice, first in barrels before transferred into bottles where yeast and sugar are added, then sealed with a temporary closure. The wine has a secondary fermentation to convert into alcohol and a natural by-product, CO2, dissolves into tiny bubbles to create naturally sparkling wine.  The bottles are turned neck down and gradually rotated funnelling the yeast sediment (the lees) into the neck. When this is cooled, the pressure of the wine pushes out the sediment, a little sugar and wine called a dosage is added and the bottle finally sealed with a cork.

The sophistated, elegant lifestyle of Cordorniu Cava

So time to pop a couple of corks! 

Codorníu Vintage Brut 2019. 

Grape varieties:  Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada. Alcohol content: 11.5%.

There is a specific harvest time for each variety of grape, Macabeo at the end of August, followed by Xarel.lo and finally Parellada, early October. The grapes are destemmed and crushed with the wines blended and bottled. A second fermentation followed by a period of ageing in the underground cellars at a constant temperature for at least 9 months. This is the traditional method.

Characteristics.  A pale straw yellow colour, an aroma of citrus fruit, almond blossom with notes of brioche and dried fruits and nuts.  A fine mousse on the palate with balanced freshness. Serve well chilled.

Ice cold Codorniu Vintage Cava

The Taste Test

Nose: lemon zest, softly floral.

Taste: the first sip is sensational, the “fizz” is so delicate and fresh tasting, crisp apple and dry like a water biscuit. The overall impression is its smooth elegance, far removed from a sweet Prosecco or honeyed Chardonnay Cava. 

If this were a blind tasting with a few coupes of French champagne, it would surely fool the judges. 

The quality is due to the fact this is a vintage cava made with grapes from a single harvest. Perfect to sip as an apéritif or with tapas and fish dishes- smoked salmon, calamari.  

(Interestingly, Sainsbury Taste the Difference vintage Cava is supplied by Codorniu so they have selected the best!).

Codorniu Rosado

Codorníu Rosado Cava

Grape varieties: Monastrell, Garnacha and Trepat. Alcoholic content, 11.5%

This sparkling wine is also made in the traditional method, the same way as Champagne which gives the wine depth of flavour, elegance and long-lasting, fine bubbles.

Characteristics: A dry, pure and bright Rosé fizz with the aroma of strawberry. Serve chilled (6-8°c)

The Taste Test

Nose:  pale cherry pink in colour with the fragrance of summer berries and blossom

Taste: light and fruity with zingy notes of raspberry, strawberry and juicy plum. Fresh and vibrant, rather than sweet, well balanced and with a crisp finish, like a dry, blush Rosé from Provence with bubbles. This is the flagship Rosado Cava in the UK.

A delicious, pure, pink fizz to sip as an aperitif – perhaps add a raspberry to the flute too. This is a celebratory toast as a charismatic change from classic Cava. In summer, (or any time), serve with a dessert of mixed berries and cream.

Pink fizz with raspberries for extra fruitiness

Proudly Catalonian, Codorníu Cava has been contemporary since 1872, constantly keeping up with trends and tastes to maintain its global reputation, producing an innovative range of sparkling wines, Anna Codorniu, Brut Codorníu, Non-Vintage Brut, Vintage Brut, Codorníu Ars Collecta Blanc de Noirs. 

Codorniu Anna – the modern taste of Cava

Named after their 17th century ancestor, Anna is the most modern expression in the range, the first to use chardonnay grapes: youthful, fresh with a unique personality, this is the brand’s emblematic Cava reflecting its fine heritage.  The perfect aperitif and an ideal partner for shellfish, sushi, sashimi and carpaccio.

Today, Raventós Codorníu has more than 3,000 hectares of vineyards, one of the largest vineyard owners in Europe; Codorníu is the best selling Cava brand in Spain and exported to 50 countries, 54 gold medals and their range of sparkling wines are served at over 50 Michelin star restaurants worldwide.

Codorníu promote a contemporary Mediterranean lifestyle – sunshine, beaches, joy, freedom; casual, spontaneous, sometimes sophisticated; celebrations and special moments in life – to share the Cava experience worldwide.

The, contemporary, Codorniu Catalonian lifestyle

Codorníu Discovery and Iconic tours in the Cava Capital

 Casa Codorníu is located 30 minutes from Barcelona in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. Learn all about the history of the family dynasty on a tour of the House of Cava, the majestic Art Nouveau building designed by the architect, Josep Puig i Cadafalch; Taste three iconic prestigious Cavas and a small aperitif.

The vintage artwork at the historic Codorniu winery

Read more about Codorníu Cava here:

http://www.raventoscodorniu.com/en

Just time to add a personal recommendation for VIDA, an exciting new wine and spirit company in the UK, highly regarded for personal customer service. 

VIDA UK is the third branch of the company, following on from Sofia & Vienna, as part of a growing family tree. The idea behind Vida Wines began about 5 years ago when a vineyard was acquired in Northwest Bulgaria, close to the medieval fortress of Baba Vida, which inspired the name.

Baba Vida Castle, Bulgaria

The region has a long winemaking history thanks to a unique microclimate.  As wine makers and importers, VIDA Wines offer the finest Central and Eastern European wines carefully curated from 15 countries to showcase the classics, new producers and exclusive wines.

Vida Viognier

Country of origin: Bulgaria, Danubian Plain

Grape Variety:  Vigonier. Vintage:  2020. ABV: 12.5%

Characteristics:  Delicate nose with great elegance and aromatic nuances of white flora, apricots, herbs, toast. Dense with fresh acidity and a slight minerality which contributes to its great quality. Long, persistent, fruity finish.

The Taste Test:

Aroma:  a delicate fruitiness, the scent of an orchard.  

Taste:  As I would often select Sauvignon Blanc (NZ), Chenin Blanc (South Africa), and Pinot Grigio (Italy), this has a fresh, dry, crisp clarity which is distinctively different. The lingering, soft apricot – peach flavour adds to the dryness with a hint of lime and spicy lemongrass. Deliciously delicate.  The viognier grape creates an aromatic fuller-bodied style of white wine and pairs well with white meats, fish, shellfish, scallops and dishes with earthy herbs, e.g. basil in a classic Italian Caprese.

On Trust Pilot, Vida Wines has received 5 stars from 92% of their customers.

Reviews from happy drinkers: Winter 2021

Excellent service, great selection of wines and superb advice, cannot fault them and will certainly be buying more Vida wines.

Great service and the wine was beyond expectations.

Vida may be a new company in the UK but they have a refreshingly old fashioned attitude to customer service and I fully recommend them.

These are a few suggestions from VIDA which will add an inspiring range of hand picked European wines for your Christmas or New Year party. 

 Under £10 wines:

•          VIDA EXCLUSIVE : VIDA Viognier 2020 Vida Wines and Spirits UK, £9.99.

•          VIDA Direct from Vineyard : Averesti Selectie Cabernet Sauvignon NV Vida Wines and Spirits UK, £7.99.

Under £15 wines:

•          VIDA Direct from Vineyard: Kristančič Chardonnay 2019 Vida Wines and Spirits UK, £14.69.

•          Angerhof- Tschida Beerenauslese 2017: Angerhof-Tschida Beerenauslese 2017 Vida Wines and Spirits UK ,£13.89.

Under £25 wines

•          VIDA direct from Vineyard: Kristančič Pavo Cristatus Classic Cuvee 2014 Vida Wines and Spirits UK, £21.29.

•          Karl Fritsch Riesling Mordthal 2019 Vida Wines and Spirits UK, £21.79.

Browse the full collection of wines and spirits here:

https://vidawines.co.uk/

Eat, Drink and be merry this Festive seaon. Cheers!

‘From Spring to Spirit’ 1881 Distillery at Peebles Hydro: natural, hand-crafted, refreshing Gins

Peebles Hydro Hotel

The 1881 Distillery, located in the grounds of Peebles Hydro Hotel in the Scottish Borders, is named after the year when the Hydropathic Spa first opened here, offering Therapeutic treatments using water from its own Shieldgreen Spring.

Peebles Hydropathic Spa before 1905

The Victorian Spa tragically burned down in 1905 but was rebuilt, and with an ethos for health and wellbeing, became a popular tennis destination.  In the 1920s, Peebles Hydro had more tennis courts than Wimbledon and hosted tournaments and the Scottish Championships.  

Peebles Hydro Resort the home of Tennis championships in the 1920s

It was this tennis heritage when G & T was served on the lawn in the summer sunshine, which inspired the idea a few years ago to create a Gin distillery at the Resort.  Built above the former swimming pool, the 1881 Distillery opened in October 2019. 

Gin makers, Lauren Appleyard and Dean McDonald with “Felicity” the copper Still

Charlie Leckie, Brand Manager, is a sixth generation member at the family hotel: “We’re proud of the heritage of Peebles Hydro which is embodied by the 1881 Gin, a blend of carefully chosen Scottish botanicals and distilled in the heart of the Borders.”

Stephen Leckie (CEO,Crieff Hydro hotels) with his son Charlie

With the tagline, ‘Spring to Spirit,’ water is sourced from the local Shieldgreen spring which had traditionally been used for the Hydropathic Spa treatments. ‘Felicity’, the copper Still makes five distinctive gins – London Dry, Pavilion Pink, Honours, Rafters and Tiffin, each with their own logo and bottle illustration paying homage to the heritage of Peebles Hydro.  Tonic 81 is also made at the Distillery, Premium, Light, Pink Grapefruit and Elderflower, the perfect mixer for each gin.

Floral, fruiity and spicy botanicals for the diverse range of gins

Hydro London Dry Gin (40% ABV)

The botanicals include juniper, bay, hawthorn berries, cardamom, cassia, birch bark, fir needles, grapefruit peel, grains of paradise, milk thistle – many grown in the Peebles Hydro gardens – then blended with the pure Spring water.

Distillery notes:

Nose: Fresh, piney juniper and fir, with grapefruit citrus and aromatic cardamom.

Palate: Hawthorn, birch and fir back up an initial wave of juniper, giving way to warming cassia and bay.

Finish: A long, smooth, citric finish with bay leaf and subtle earthiness from our local botanicals.

Serve: a large measure with a wedge of pink grapefruit and a splash of premium tonic water.

RTD 1881 Hydro Gin and Tonic in a can

The Hydro G&T is available RTD in a can, perfect from summer picnics to Christmas parties. 

The Taste Test:  If popping a cork of Champagne should sound like a maiden’s sigh, my ice-chilled can of G&T opens with a loud fizz, which I poured into a large glass over ice and slice. A subtle flavour at first with floral and earthy juniper notes but then an underlying aromatic ginger spice kicks in, which is sharp and refreshing.

1881 Pavilion Peebles Pink Gin (40% ABV)

The 1881 Pavilion Pink Gin is a classic gin with the addition of wild Scottish red berries and a hint of floral hibiscus, named in honour of the hotel’s historical tennis pavilion.

Distillery notes:

Nose: Silky red fruits, juniper, spice and citrus

Palate: Fresh raspberry complemented by strawberry, hibiscus and gentle spice from cardamom and grains of paradise

Finish: Creamy fruit fading to citrus, pine, red Berries

Serve: A few fresh raspberries, a sprig of mint, tonic and ice.

The 1881 Pavilion G&T is also available ready to drink in a can.

The Taste test: Floral, fruity and fragrantly perfumed with a honeyed sweetness. An ice cold summertime drink or served with dessert: raspberries / strawberries & cream, Eton Mess, Strawberry Pavlova, or Scones and jam for a decadent Afternoon tea.

The tragic fire of 1905 at Peebles Hydropathic Spa

Rafters Subtly Smoked Gin (40% abv)

In the Summer of 1905, a spark in the roof space caused a devastating fire at Peebles Hydro. But within a few years the hotel was thankfully restored with grand Edwardian architecture and art deco style. To commemorate the Phoenix rising from the ashes is Rafters Subtly Smoked Gin, with its stunning image depicting the hotel billowing with smoke.

Distiller’s notes:

Nose: Subtle but distinct sweet oak smoke, followed by our signature profile of juniper, cardamom and grapefruit.

Palate: Warming smoke and spice intermingle to create a savoury gin suitable for sipping or mixing. The palate develops into juniper freshness backed by citrus.

Finish: A lengthy finish of warm citrus and wisps of smoke draw you back for another sip.

Serve: Sip neat, over ice, or in a G&T with a wedge of lime and a slice of chilli pepper.

The Taste test of pure, neat gin: The aroma of oak smoke followed by earthy juniper and citrus sweetness. Then the first taste – distinctive bonfire wood smoke and a blend of spices to create a savoury gin with a lingering juniper freshness. Warming cardamom, fruity citrus and delectable smokiness.  

Wow! This has the X factor, utterly divine and one of the most delicious, dynamic, dramatic gins I have experienced.

The verdict from the Masters of Malt

Distilled using a variety of gin botanicals including piney juniper and tart pink grapefruit. An undertone of smoke supports vibrant grapefruit citrus, a touch of cinnamon and a strong juniper finish. Best served over ice with a classic tonic to enjoy the complex, smoky spirit with a garnish of lime and ginger.  Subtle hints of smoke on the palate make this a distinctive spirit which stands up particularly well in cocktails, including a Negroni.

1881 Rafters Negroni

50ml Rafters gin, 25ml sweet Rosso vermouth, 25ml Campari.  Orange garnish.

1881 Rafters Gin for a distinctively different Negroni

The simplest of cocktails to make at home without the need of a shaker – just pour all these ingredients into a chunky Rocks glass with a large ice cube. Stir gently and add a wedge of orange.  The bittersweet aroma of the Campari blends perfectly with the Rafters gin to make a delicious and very special smoky Negroni.  The Count would certainly approve!.

1881 Dry Gin Martini

50 ml Rafters gin, 15 ml dry vermouth.

1881 Rafters Gin Martini has an elegant, sophisticated flavour

Add to a cocktail shaker with lots of ice and stir or shake gently. Pour into a cocktail glass or champagne saucer with a garnish of olive.  The smokiness enhances the typical bone-dry punch of a Martini with such an elegant, smooth taste. 

As we are heading into dark, chilly nights of winter, why not ring the changes of a Whisky hot toddy and add Rafter’s gin instead ?

Hot Gin Toddy

300ml water, 1 ginger teabag, 2 cinnamon sticks, 4 cardamom pods, 4 whole cloves, 1 tablespoon clear honey, freshly squeezed orange juice, 100ml 1881 Rafters gin (serves 2)

Hot Gin Toddy – the perfect winter warmer

Add the water, ginger teabag, cinnamon, cardamom pods and cloves to a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes; stir in the honey and citrus juice and gently heat for few more minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the gin. Strain off the spices, if preferred, or keep the cinammon stick to stir and pour into two large mugs, with an orange or lemon garnish.  A winter warmer after a bracing walk in the snow.  

1881 Distillery news:

Gift box sets of four gins (5cl and 20cl)

This festive season, the 1881 Distillery offers gift boxes of four gins in two sizes, 5cl and 20cl. – Hydro London Dry, Pavilion Pink, Rafters and Honours Navy-strength Gin.

Silver award for 1881 Tiffin Gin, Scottish Gin Awards 2021

1881 Distillery won Silver award for Flavoured Gin of the Year at the recent Scottish Gin Awards 2021. Tiffin Gin incorporates light aromatic, warming spices to achieve its distinctive taste, with notes of cumin, cardamom, and kaffir lime.

Visit the 1881 Distillery and Gin School

The 1881 Distillery gin school

The 1881 Distillery at Peebles Hydro has the largest residential Gin school with a classroom of 26 mini-stills, offering a range of day and overnight Experiences to learn about distilling gin and craft your own spirit, Tours and tastings.  

For more information on Peebles Hydro, 1881 distillery, on line shop and the Gin School:

1881 Distillery,

Peebles Hydro, Innerleithen Road, Peebles, EH45 8LX

info@1881distillery.com

www.1881distillery.com

www.peebleshydro.co.uk

Peebles Hydro Spa Resort, Scottish Borders

Experience a fun, cultural, foodie, city break in Manchester this Festive season

Having visiting Manchester a few years ago, I planned another trip recently to find out what’s on, where to go and what to see during the festive season.  Instead of a seasonal sleigh, I had a smooth, comfortable journey on a brand new Nova Tranpennine Express electric train from Edinburgh. There are five carriages, with 264 seats in standard class, 22 in first class, complimentary wifi and a power socket at every seat. Trolley service for refreshments and snacks, and storage for 4 bicycles. The Nova 2 trains run between Edinburgh and Manchester Airport so the ideal route if planning to jet off somewhere exotic.

The sleek new Nova 2 Transpennine Express train from Edinburgh to Manchester Airport

As I headed south to Manchester, meanwhile my sister, June, was speeding north from London Euston on an Aviva train: the itinerary for our Christmas shopping and cultural city break began with perfect synchronicity, the two trains arriving on time, just four minutes apart at 1.23pm and 1.27pm respectively.

Take the train from around the country to Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester’s Christmas Markets have been attracting thousands of visitors to the city centre every year since 1998 to add a sparkle to the winter chill.  Staying at the Mercure hotel was a great central location on Portland Street, Piccadilly Gardens, which has been transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’. This is a pop up village of Christmas market stalls and log cabin bars such as Apres Ski & Off Piste where you can warm up with an Alpine Ale, mulled wine, prosecco, cider, Nordic Glogg, Hot toddy and a Bailey’s coffee.

The Alpine ski-themed Winter Gardens, Piccadilly Square

The markets are also located across St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, New Cathedral Street, King Street, Market Street and Cathedral Gardens which will entice the skaters to the ice rink. A central stage with a series of live music events will entertain the crowds.  Sip Gluhwein and sample apple strudel around the traditional German stalls, and, of course, Bratwurst – perhaps best to share the half a metre sausage!   

The half metre Bratwurst German sausage

Dine around the world from  Little Spain – paella, chorizo rolls, patatas bravas and hot sangria to Mexico Joes Ltd – Chicken flatbread, falafel, and halloumi fries. Eat Greek – halloumi fries, pitta bread, Elsie Mays for warm brownies and milkshakes. French, Sicilian and Dutch dishes too.  An American feast at Triple B -Pastrami Burger and a huge Turkey Reuben bagel.

The best of British at Porkys of Yarm serving Hot roast pork rolls, Hydes beers, local cider, English wines  and Clowbecks for Cumberland sausage, bubble & squeak, tatties, mulled wine and lager.  Porky Pig  Yorkshire puddings wraps. Battered pigs in blankets. For vegetarians and vegans, Panc is a plant-based stall offers meat free sausages, burgers, fried chick’n and more.

And of course, the Markets are the place to buy innovative gifts galore – from chocolates and cheese, to toys and games, arts and crafts, soaps, clothing, socks, hats, gloves, leather bags and wallets, jewellery.

The Markets are open until Wednesday December 22, 10am to 9pm daily with some stalls continuing around the Winter and Cathedral Gardens into the New Year.

A night at the theatre to see the musical, Waitress at the Opera House, originally The New Theatre, which opened on Boxing Day, 1912, then renamed the Opera House in 1920. It was a cinema in WW2, then a bingo hall before launched as a theatre again in 1984, renowned for touring musicals such as Barnum and Phantom of the Opera.  Waitress is a comedy drama set in an American diner and after the ten day run in Manchester, it’s now on tour around the country so do catch this heart-warming, feminist, feel good show if you can.  

The pantomime at the Opera House this year is Aladdin, starring Alexandra Burke, with flying carpets, a genie, an evil sorcerer, magical effects, song and dance.  

Warmly recommended for a pre-post theatre lunch or supper is Bill’s Spinningfields which is perfectly located a two minute walk away from the Opera House.

‘Our passion for great food, cooked with care in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Whether with friends, family or an intimate dinner for two, from breakfast to bedtime and everything in between.’ 

Bill’s started 20 years ago, when Bill Collison opened his Greengrocer’s shop in Lewes, East Sussex and soon added a café, a concept for seasonal local food which has gradually grown into a collection of restaurants across the UK.  

The modern, stylish menu changes seasonally – quality, gastropub, homely food with generous portions and is very vegetarian-vegan friendly.  I selected crispy calamari, perfect finger food, dipping the rings into the creamy aioli.  Then a veggie burger, Halloumi, avocado and roasted peppers, with sweet potato fries.  My sister nibbled a few olives to start and then enjoyed a real, juicy meat burger, cooked to her liking, with rosemary fries (we declined the bun to reduce the calories). With our meal we sipped one of the house wines, the South African, Journey’s End Chardonnay – deliciously crisp and dry.

This Christmas season, with the witty Wizard of Oz theme, There’s No Place Like Bill’s, you will be tempted by the enticing seasonal food and cocktail menu such as Pigs-in-blankets,  Christmas Truffle Cheese Fondue Burger,  Boxing Day curry, Truffalo sprouts and for dessert,  sugar-sprinkled Snow Nuts or Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, a red berry cheesecake with chocolate tree, stars and baubles.

Time for party cocktails: Gin-gle Bells (Whitley Neill Raspberry Gin, Chambord, fresh pineapple), Passion Fruit Spritz and the Strawberry Margarita.

After the theatre, it was back to the Mercure hotel for a nightcap at the Level 3 Lounge Bar overlooking the bright lights of the Christmas market.  The ‘seasonal’ cocktail list includes a Summer Mojito (not quite right for a chilly winter night!), and, disappointing that there was no Campari in stock for the Negroni. I chose a classic Gin Martini (but no olive garnish available), while June sipped a Nojito, a minty, fruity tipple without the rum.

Gin Martini and Nojito at Level 3 Bar, Mercure Hotel with city views

Art lovers should visit the Contemporary 6 Gallery, 37 Princess Street, owned by Alex Reuben who selects a series of inspiring shows of paintings, modern prints, (Picasso, Kandinsky, Matisse), ceramics and sculpture. Throughout November is the eclectic artwork of Jim Moir (as seen on Sky TV, Celebrity Portrait and Landscape Artist), ranging from a flight of birds to quirky portraits.

For a marvellous day out for all ages, take a trip to the Trafford Centre, five miles from the city centre, and easy to get there by metrolink tram. This is very much like This is very much like an American shopping mall with designer and high street stores, not least a large branch of Selfridges, as well as a cinema, bowling alley, Game arena and Legoland.  After browsing the shops or seeing a movie, time for refreshments, but signage needs improved as where to eat and drink is difficult to find. The Orient is designed around the replica of a pool deck on a classic ocean liner featuring numerous bars and bistros from All Bar One to Zizzi. A huge marble staircase modelled on the Titanic leads to the Great Hall and features the largest chandelier in the world.

The marble Titanic staircase at the Great Hall,Trafford Centre

Drink, eat and stay at the Kimpton Clocktower which was named recently in the Sunday Times as one of the best 100 hotels in the UK. Founded in San Francisco in 1981, the cool, quirky Kimpton brand focuses on art, wellness, modern cuisine and playful style while reflecting the heritage of each destination. 

The landmark clocktower above the Kimpton Hotel, Manchester

The majestic Victorian red brick and terracotta building was initially the The Refuge Assurance Company (1890), which opened as the hotel on 1st October 2020. In the lobby, a bronze horse sculpted by Sophie Dickens illustrates the turning circle for the former Hansom cabs and carriages; original features include ceramic tiles, stained glass and wooden staircases juxtaposed with contemporary furnishings.

The lobby at the Kimpton with horse sculpture

Bold colourfully designed bedrooms and suites are draped in velvet with bespoke decor and artwork by Scottish company Timorous Beasties, while vinyl records of Manchester’s famous bands from the Stone Roses to Oasis can be played on a turntable. Guests can take use of the in room yoga mat, the complimentary tuck box and many bathrooms boast a classic roll top bathtub.

Signature suite at the Kimpton Clocktower, designed by Timorous Beasties

Relax over a drink or Afternoon tea in The Winter Garden, an interior glasshouse blossoming with plants and trees and wine and dine at The Refuge by Volta. The Refuge Bar and Dining Room is a vast but elegant space of interconnecting salons where on a Friday night the lounge area was buzzing with happy drinkers and around the corner, the fabulous Restaurant with well designed, comfy banquette seating and half moon booths.  

Refuge by Volta – stylish, soul food for sharing

An innovative menu of Soul Food for sharing is neatly divided into Meat, Seafood, On the Side and Vegetables, inspired around the global travels by the DJ -Restaurateurs, Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey.   

First of all it’s time for finely crafted cocktails – the Drinks list is most enticing with a celebration of gin and modern twists on the classics. Like a revamped French 75, is ‘Glamour of Manchester’:– Malfy rose gin, lemon, hibiscus syrup, Champagne.  There’s an innovative selection of spirits especially speciality gins for the perfect serve such as Aviation, Gin Mare, Malfy Rosa, Monkey 47 and Ramsbury Single Estate Gin.

The pure, smooth taste of Ramsbury Single Estate Gin (Wiltshire) for the perfect Martini

My Gin Martini was a masterclass of the art which hit the spot with lip smacking delight. Across the table, June selected The Queen’s Peach – Spiced rum, peach, lime, mint with a splash of prosecco – for a refreshing taste of the Caribbean.   

Masterly curated Cocktails at Refuge by Volta

Advised to select four to five dishes for two, we chose the ras-el-hanout scented chicken, salt cod croquettes with tartare aioli, tenderstem broccoli, chargrilled cauliflower and chickpea daal, for an eclectic Middle Eastern, Asia and Spanish culinary journey.  The vegetables were perfectly cooked almost al dente and the creamy daal in coconut milk was mixed with apricots and dates. For dessert, a sticky toffee pudding was the perfect finale to a superlative meal. Hospitality by Jake and James was exemplary.  

As well as sipping a delicious Sartori Pinot Grigio, the wine list tours the world to France, Spain, South Africa, Australia and Lebanon.  With DJs in charge of the ambience, you can expect a lively vibe with a soothing, sassy mix of jazz, swing, funk, soul and house.

Superlative, modern cuisine at the Refuge by Volta: soul food for sharing

Experience the magic of Manchester this Christmas at the Kimpton Clocktower. Treat yourself to a stay in one of the gorgeously styled rooms or suites and enjoy a three course Christmas Day lunch with a glass of fizz and festive snacks in The Refuge, breakfast each day is included and chill out for a leisurely 3pm checkout on departure.  

Enjoy a fine feast of Brunch at Refuge by Volta

Hope this all whets your appetite to plan a magical, cultural and shopping trip to Manchester soon.

Links to help you research your visit.

https://www.visitmanchester.com/

https://bills-website.co.uk/restaurants/manchester

https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/aladdin/opera-house-manchester/

https://www.contemporarysix.co.uk/about-us/

https://traffordcentre.co.uk/

www.kimptonclocktowerhotel.com

Waitress: a feel-good, feminist, rom-com musical as sweet as American blueberry pie @ Opera House, Manchester (and on tour).

This popular and very successful stage musical is based on the 2007 movie, Waitress which was selected for Sundance Festival, became a box office hit, making nearly $22 million on a $1.5 million-dollar budget. 

Written and directed by Adrienne Shelly, it tells the classic American tale of Jenna, a small- town girl who works in a diner but has big dreams for the future.

When producers Barry and Fran Weissler saw Waitress, they knew it would make a great Broadway show: “I saw the movie and thought, ‘This is heart-wrenching, touching and funny.  An all-female creative team behind the book, music and director led to four Tony nominations including Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Actress.  It then played in London for a year until forced to close in March 2020 for lockdown.

Becky (Sandra Marvin), Jenna (Lucie Jones), Dawn (Evelyn Hoskins)

Bouncing back again, the UK tour stars Lucie Jones, Sandra Marvin and Evelyn Hoskins who reprise their West End roles. The realistic stage set depicts the colourful Joe’s Diner with counter, stools, tables, booths, blackboard menu, and outside, a panoramic rural scene of telegraph poles against a blue sky.

The show kicks off in a colourful, rousing manner with a medley of songs, as we are introduced to the terrific trio of waitresses, Cal, the diner manager and old Joe, the owner, who loves to try the speciality dish of the day. Jenna is a talented baker devising her own Couch Potato and Polka Dot Peach Pies. She plans to enter a local Pie contest with the chance to win $25,000 which would solve her financial worries and escape her domineering husband Earl.

Earl (Tamlyn Hendrson) and Jenna (Lucie Jones)

Jenna, Becky and Dawn are close workmates and loyal friends, offering advice on life, love, romance and marriage, woman to woman. With her vivacious, sunny pesonality, Becky cheers the girls up, boosting their confidence. Petite, with a high pitched girly voice, the cookie, cute Dawn is rather naive but keen to find a man on a dating site. She just needs to find someone who likes History’s Mysteries on TV.

Jenna the star baker of Joe’s Diner

The song lyrics drive the storyline along such as the upbeat, What Baking Can Do in which Jenna remembers how she made cakes with her mother, who encouraged her to do well in pursuit of happiness.

So with flour on my hands
I’ll show them all how
Goddamn happy I am
Sugar, butter, flour ..

Jenna cracks eggs into a bowl, sifts flour and rolls out pastry dough while she acts and sings, all at the same time with neat, multi-tasking talent.  

Another passionate song, A Soft Place to Land, sung in perfect harmony by the three girls, relates how they are all determined to change their lives for the better.

Dawn (Evie Hoskins), Becky (Sandra Marvin), and Jenna (Lucie Jones)

The arrival of a new doctor in town quickly sparks an immediate romantic interest although unfortunately he is married. And so is she.  Think ‘Brief Encounter’. She seduces him with delicious cakes and as the intimate scenes with Dr. Pomatter (Matt Jay-Willis) are often in slow motion in a shimmering light – is this really happening or a fantasy of her imagination.? 

Jenna (Lucie Jones) and Dr. Pomatter (Matt Jay-Willis)

The topical narrative centres around Jenna who smiles happily, serving cakes in Joe’s diner, hiding the dark secret of Earl’s bossy, bullying behaviour at home.  She is vulnerable, lost and afraid but has a strong-minded spirit illustrated in a beautiful ballad, She Used to be Mine: Lucie Jones is a true opera diva, showing off her soaring vocal range and deep emotion, enhanced with an echo effect.

If I’m honest I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over
And rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew.

Lucie Jones is a true diva star as Jenna in Waitress

Sassy, smart and soulful, Waitress is a feel good, feminist, musical comedy with strong, dramatic punch.  Fine characterisation, sharp dialogue, charming songs, witty lyrics and moments of LOL hilarity, it all flows along to the lively score performed on stage by the six piece band.  Slick choreography too for the ensemble numbers with high flying pies galore. 

Imagine The Great British Bake Off as a musical: expect a sweet and savoury dish, a chunk of cheesy romance and a sprinkling of hot spice, the recipe for a perfectly baked show as delicious as American blueberry pie. No wonder there was a standing ovation at the Opera House, Manchester.

Show times:

Opera House, Manchester 8 – 20 November, 2021

https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/waitress/opera-house-manchester/

For a pre-theatre supper, Bill’s Spinningfields is warmly recommended. Just a two minute walk from the Opera House

Waitress on tour:  https://www.waitressthemusical.co.uk/

The cookie, cute Dawn (Evelyn Hoskins) and her admirer Ogie (George Crawford)

‘Evocative Skies’ magical vistas from beach scenes to city panoramas – an exhibition by Jamie Primrose @ Dundas Street Gallery

Since 2003, Jamie Primrose has presented artwork at over forty solo exhibitions, specialising in city, land and seascapes from Scotland to the South of France. This new showcase focuses on the dramatic beauty of skyscapes along the East Lothian coastline and across Edinburgh.

East Lothian seascapes by Jamie Primrose at the Dundas Street Gallery

The ‘Evocative Skies‘ exhibition is well laid out following a geographical route from the sandy beaches of North Berwick to Tyninghame and Yellowcraig, around the gallery to the rolling hills, high spires and streets of the Capital.

A selection of panoramic sunsets across Edinburgh, by Jamie Primrose

The introduction to ‘Evocative Skies,” describes the artistic theme:

The transient nature of light onto water and land to create luminosity and atmosphere, the dream-like quality of glorious streams of light reflecting onto the sea and iridescent sands; these sweeping cloudscapes depict the ever-changing play of light above sparkling, tranquil shores’.

The glowing, glimmering luminosity of fading sun is clearly illustrated in Late Afternoon looking towards Cove, in which the viewer feels they are standing on the sand to observe the immensity of the clear blue sky. This impressionistic scene is captured in striated layers where the sea meets the sand, and a line of white cloud hovering over the distant hills.

Late Afternoon looking towards Cove, Jamie Primrose

The iconic pudding shape of the bird sanctuary takes centre stage in Looking towards Bass Rock from North Berwick Beach, given a perfect perspective between the lapping waves on the beach and mauve-tinted clouds; a realistic sense of a brisk breeze whipping up over the sea and sky too.

Looking towards Bass Rock from North Berwick Beach, Jamie Primrose

Another majestic view of the craggy island in Clouds passing over North Berwick depicting a more blustery day. Again, the sky takes prominence, spanning over two thirds of the painting, with just a slither of sea on the edge of the sandy beach. 

Clouds passing over North Berwick, Jamie Primrose

The Stevenson lighthouse on the island of Fidra is the focal point of Reflections on Yellowcraig Beach. Robert Louis Stevenson (who spent holidays in North Berwick), is said to have been inspired by the rocky shape of Fidra for his map of ‘Treasure Island’.

Treasure Island – perhaps inspired by the island of Fidra

This is such an evocative and tranquil study of Yellowcraig beach after the tide has ebbed away leaving glistening wet sand with slender shards of sunlight below the billowing cloud.

Reflections on Yellowcraig Beach, Jamie Primrose

The fading light at dusk is captured with such a delicate, pale palette in Tyninghame Reflections – the thick brush strokes sweep a soft dusty pink across the sky reflected with an impressionistic flourish on the waves and shoreline. Such an atmospheric, contemplative composition.

Tyninghame Reflections, Jamie Primrose

This is almost reminiscent of the artist’s previous abstract landscapes such as Tierra de La Luz (Costa Rica, 2003).  The translucent sheen of blue, indigo and tangerine, with Rothko-esque expressionism, depict the horizon over the sea at sunset with stunning simplicity.

Tierra de La Luz, Costa Rica, Jamie Primrose

Perhaps, Jamie Primrose might be inspired to experiment again with his earlier, masterly artisic style to express these seascapes in similar abstract mode and manner, through blocks of pure colour, shape and light.

There’s an almost photographic perspective snapped in Shimmering light over Edinburgh from Longniddry, looking across the Firth of Forth.  There’s a painterly pattern here: the foreground stretch of rocky beach is echoed in the long, low lying dark cloud, and also in the distance, the rolling mound of hills in a shadowy silhouette. 

Shimmering Light over Edinburgh from Longniddry, Jamie Primrose

A seasonal, gold tinted cityscape is portrayed in Autumnal drama over the city from Blackford Hill, one of Primrose’s ambitious, signature, panoramic views with such architectural detail of the city skyline. The afterglow of sunset is sinking towards the west, turning the sky a shimmering salmon pink across the flow and flurry of clouds.

Autumnal drama over the city from Blackford Hill, Jamie Primrose

Around the gallery is a diverse range of other iconic skyscape views of Edinburgh, depicted from dawn to dusk – Duddingston Loch, from Calton Hill, the Castle and around the Old Town.  

Limited Edition Prints

As well as over fifty original oil paintings on show, there’s also a selection of exclusive, limited edition prints: East Lothian beaches, Arthur’s Seat, city sunset skylines, colourful Old Town scenes, and more. 

 ‘Evocative Skies’ paintings by Jamie Primrose

Magical vistas in East Lothian & Edinburgh

The Dundas Street Gallery, 6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

Friday 5th – Saturday 13th November 2021

Open daily, 11am – 6pm. Saturday 13th November, 11am – 5pm (last day)

View the ‘Evocative Skies’ collection of original oil paintings online:

https://www.jamieprimrose.com/latest/index.html

Limited Edition Prints:

East Lothian seascapes: http://shop.jamieprimrose.com/shop/3/12/index.htm

Vibrant sunsets: http://shop.jamieprimrose.com/shop/2/26/index.htm