Mary Queen of Scots is one of the most famous and tragic stories in Scotland's history. Marie d'Ecosse, as she most likely would have preferred to be known, was born on the 8th of December 1542 and became queen at just 6 days old when her father James V died at Falkland Palace.
Her legacy is one sadness, religious tension, infidelity, cousin rivalry and incarceration. You can learn more about Mary on a special Mary Queen of Scots private tour where you can learn more about her.
For today only, and to celebrate her birthday, we are conducting a live Q&A session at 4 pm GMT. We are also putting up a fantastic handmade Mary Queen of Scots (with doll) dress worth £250 up for grabs. All you have to do is like and share this article and tune into the live feed. Winner will be announced at 10 pm GMT
Handknitted and Crochet dress including beads and handmade underskirt. Made my Cirstaidh Park - Catriona's mum.
Since a lot of Outlander is centred around Scottish folklore, superstition, witchcraft, ghosts and ghouls…..(in fact, in the TV series, the show starts on the eve of Samhain aka Halloween.) We have decided to put on 3 special day tours.
BBC Scotland has released a 3 part documentary presented by David Hayman called “Scotch! The story of Whisky”. The first episode aired on Tuesday 11th October 2016 at 9pm GMT. We at Slainte Scotland have taken a great interest since we are very much a part of the whisky community and decided to follow the show, blogging on what we have learned, the impact of the whisky industry and the Scot’s clothing choices worn by David (a real highlight).
The show invites whisky industry professionals who explain their experiences and knowledge in short snippets throughout. They include whisky journalists, master blenders, distillers authors and managing directors of some of the distilleries.
This week’s episode started off in Tokyo, Japan with David introducing the notion of Scotch’s global impact. Scotch, in fact was described as “Scotland’s gift to the world”. What a lovely thought and one that was the main thread of episode.
Firstly though, let me briefly explain the rule of the “Scotch Brand”
“Whisky that is produced in Scotland and matured in Oak Barrels for a minimum of 3 years and 1 day.”
Scotch Single Malt Whisky:
Must follow the rule as above using 3 ingredients; malted barley, water and yeast and produced from 1 distillery.
Blended Scotch Whisky:
Must follow the “Scotch brand” rule however is produced using whisky from multiple distilleries including often “grain” whisky, which is made using unmalted cereals such as wheat and maize as well as malted barley.
Now back to the show:
They discussed quite a few interesting facts which has led to the success of Scotch whisky and I have detailed a few below:
- Whisky production and farming have always gone hand in hand,and since the natural crop in Scotland is Barley, it only makes sense to produce an alcohol from it. The distilleries, still to this day follow the harvest each year and much of their bi product (which I will go into at another time) goes back to farming - just like one big circle, it is easy to see why it is called “the water of life” :-)
- There are 5 whisky regions of Scotland: Islay, Highlands, Speyside, Campbeltown and the Lowlands. For historical reasons (which is for a separate blog) some do better than others. Speyside in particular is the most productive single malt whisky area nowadays, with 60% of all single malts produced coming from here.
- Whisky is a billion pound industry which employs tens of thousands of people across the UK.
- The French people are the biggest whisky consumers in the world.
- Scotch took over the world’s whisky industry thanks to the middle classes of the 19th century and subsequent prohibition in the US because us canny Scots were not going to let a small problem such as illegality get in the way of good business ;-)
- Blending whisky accounts to over 90% of Scotch whisky production and remains a very secretive process still dictated by none other than the human nose. Give Blends a go was the big message to the audience of the show including David who advised he was a single malt man and didn’t care too much for a blend….he changed his mind.
Finally, one of my highlights of the show was learning about the Springbank Distillery, one of only 3 left in production in Campbeltown (the old whisky giant of days gone by). It is an independent distillery which is as close to the “old ways” as you can get in the modern day. They are also the only distillery to carry out 100% of the production onsite and has been owned by the same family for nearly 200 years. Pretty awesome stuff - I will definitely be attending their whisky festival in May 2017.
David’s Scottish clothing choices:
David is definitely a patriotic Scot with a beautiful Glasgow accent and a love our very own amber liquid, he added an extra bit of flair with his saltire badge, bunnet (hat) and very swish tartan scarf. Paris and Milan better watch out, Scotland is in style. ;-)
Next week, the program is going to centre around Islay, how the landscape can affect Scotch, the market of collecting whisky and marketing whisky across the world. The 2nd episode will air at 9pm on 18th of October on BBC 2 Scotland.
You can watch the show on BBC iPlayer now. :-)
Our Whisky Tours of Scotland are a real treat. Check them out here: http://slaintescotland.com/whisky-tours.html
Needless to say, with a name like Sláinte, we love bringing our groups to whisky distilleries around Scotland. One of our absolute favourite places to visit has to be the Auchentoshan Distillery.
Now many people tend to raise one eyebrow at this suggestion for the fact that it is not a distillery located in the highlands, islands or Spey region of Scotland and is only a mere 30 minutes from Glasgow. If you have this opinion I would like to give you a few reasons why Auchentoshan is one of the best in the country, with all of their expressions proving a hit with our guests (and us too).
- Auchentoshan is one of only a few lowland distilleries and it has an interesting history which not only includes its adversity to the taxman of the 19th century but also the fact that it witnessed one of the worst 2 days in the area’s history - the Clydebank Blitz..
- It uses water from one of the most beautiful Lochs in the country - Loch Katrine which helps to produce the delicate flavours that can only come from its soft water. Loch Katrine also supplies Glasgow with its fresh, watery goodness.
- Auchentoshan distill their whisky in a fairly unique way….it is triple distilled and comes from the distillery’s links to Ireland - Irish whiskey tends to be triple distilled and the founders of Auchentoshan were Irish. Mind Blown *snort*
- There are Highland Cows (Heelan Coos) on the distillery fields and they are magnificent looking beasts. How more Scottish cliché could you get? The name Auchentoshan is actually Scots Gaelic for “Corner of the Field” (what a wonderful imagination them Gaels had...I jest), so it is a pretty rural setting close to the city..
- And last but not least, the distillery and visitor centre offer one of the best whisky tours and experiences in the country. They are informative, fun, professional and very knowledgeable….oh and the whisky is awesome!
If you would like further information about Auchentoshan, have a look at their website and in our opinion, the best way to discover a distillery is to taste it...ahem I mean visit it ;-)
Auchentoshan we love you!!!!
You can visit Auchentoshan with us:
I have not long come back from a tour of Oban, Skye and Inverness starting and ending in Edinburgh (with Gavin Nicholson of Invergordon Tours) with a wonderful family from Canada. However this was not your usual tour, we had some celebrities in our midst…..
Slainte Scotland will be at Tartan Week as part of the Outlander United Marching Group in the Tartan Week Parade - Saturday 9th April 2016.
Imagine being met at your front door by your very own chauffeur and tour guide. Then being whisked off to some of the most beautiful locations in Scotland before having a champagne dinner at one of Scotland’s finest restaurants.
As most of my social media friends (and Outlander Tour guests) will know very well by now, is that I am a huge Outlander fan. I love the books (I am nearly finished book 3), the TV series and of course the wonderful actors. However it was something that I discovered quite late in my “tour” career thanks to the very little information in Scotland about it.
Happy New Year 2016! All the gang at Slainte Scotland hope that you have a wonderful year of love, health and prosperity and if you are looking at making some New Year’s Resolutions, here are 10 reasons why I believe Scotland should be on your list. Now I have left a few points out here as there are just so many. The reasons below are my personal favourites. However keep your eyes peeled for similar articles about great reasons and places to visit.
Right so, it has taken me nearly a week to post this but here we go...last week not only did I have the privilege of meeting Diana Gabaldon, the author of the Outlander series at Stirling Castle, but during our Outlander tours last week, we stumbled upon filming for series 2. Phew!