Scotch Whiskies with unusual Backgrounds
|BATCH 1 10 YO BATCH 2 10YO BATCH 3 NAS|
Legend has it that one ship was wrecked in the Tayne Firth – now known as The Dornoch Firth – close to Glenmorangie distillery. A growing storm had forced part of the fleet to seek refuge and one unlucky ship ran aground on a sandbar off the Doune of Creich. Some survivors, it is said, settled in Scotland. And there are still dark-haired and dusky highlanders who claim them amongst their ancestors!
The packaging is wrapped in a rich, metallic, forest green, which is accented with splashes of Glenmorangie gold, used to pick out key details such as the design’s central icon. Derived from a Pictish ceremonial shield and containing within it a representation of a Pictish chieftain on horseback, the device is framed by richly detailed, sculpturally debossed natural forms that pay homage to both the natural Highland landscape and the intricate stone carvings that are the only imprint the ancient Pictish people left upon it. Elsewhere in the background, Glenmorangie’s iconic ‘watermark’ is adapted to continue this theme, with a graphical representation of Pictish iconography that adds a further layer of detail and mystery.
Glenmorangie’s ghost seems to have a penchant for interior design – and impressive DIY skills. The White Lady, as she is known, used to do most of her haunting around the distillery’s (now decommissioned) floor maltings, but is also said to have removed whole sheets of wallpaper without even causing a tear.
As then distillery manager Graham Eunson told Kindred Spirits magazine in 2005: ‘We could have understood it if the walls had been damp, but they were bone-dry. No one could explain it, which inevitably led to talk of the White Lady having been at work.’
Many years ago, on a bitter October evening, a pair of mainlanders working at the distillery had to leave their posts and head into the cold air to investigate a blockage in the plant's water supply. Cautiously making their way up the hill, their lanterns flickering in the wind, the men huddled together for warmth and reassurance against the great unknown of the surrounding hillside as it was slowly swallowed up by the blackness of night.
Ardbeg had long since been drawing its water from Loch Uigeadail, the ‘dark and mysterious place’ and it was in that direction the two men headed. As they drew near the eerie place known as ‘Airigh Nam Beist‘, where the ruin of some ancient croft lay crumbling in the mud, the men froze in terror as a hideous shriek pierced the night air. For what must have seemed an eternity, they stood in total silence, daring not even to breathe in case they should alert whatever demonic thing could have produced such a noise.
As the lantern struck home and flame exploded from its casing, the great beast howled in rage before pulling itself free and disappearing in the direction of the Loch. Fearing it might return at any moment, the two men fled downhill towards the safe haven of the distillery, barring the doors and windows upon their arrival. Pouring themselves a drink in order to calm their shattered nerves, the men resolved to tell their co-workers the full story in the morning…
Many scoffed in their face, of course, taking the scent of Ardbeg on their breath as all the evidence that was required, but others were less dismissive. Some nodded solemnly as the two men, clearly still shaken, recounted their terrible tale and one, long in the tooth and nearing the end of his working life, told them it was not the first time he had heard such things. He could even translate for them, the name of the ruined croft where they faced their demon just a few hours before. Airigh Nam Beist – Shelter of the Beast.
Johnnie Walker has also announced, through its parent company Diageo, that it will release a limited edition of Johnnie Walker whisky using bottles made of paper rather than glass. According to Diageo, it is the world’s first plastic-free paper-based spirits bottle. The paper will come from sustainably-sourced wood pulp, and the whisky will be launched this year. To create the bottle, Diageo partnered with venture management company Pilot Lite to launch Pulpex Limited, a new sustainable packaging technology company. The paper bottle is designed to be scalable and fully recyclable in standard waste streams.
Post globalisation, J&B is the fifth-bestselling blended whisky in the world today, second only to Johnnie Walker in the Diageo stable. They also sell J&B Reserve 15 YO, Jet 12 YO, and a “pure malt” (blended malt), only in France, called J&B Exception. J&B also launched its first global campaign ‘Start a Party'. J&B is notably popular in southern European markets, mainly Spain and is promoted there as the world’s ‘party whisky’, prompted by its Nightology boat parties on an 11-tonne cargo boat starting in 2003.
The Cutty Sark is the world’s last remaining clipper ship. It was built on the Clyde, in Glasgow, in 1869 for the China tea trade, and was one of the fastest clipper ships ever built. Edrington PLC, a company whose head office was located ten miles from where the famous ship was built, used the name for a whisky it launched on March 23, 1923. Cutty Sark was the first light-coloured, blended whisky. Launched at the height of the “cocktail culture”, it was designed to be mixed and was aimed squarely at the American market.
That fateful day, he took the last lot of booze which he hid in a keg under his arm and went across the hills onto the road when he was stopped by a carriage which caught him unaware. With no chance to run and take cover, he decided to brazen it out. He boldly went on to meet the law. The officer, taken aback at being accosted, asked him where he was off to and why he had a keg of whisky under his arm. He replied that some time back he made his own whisky, but with new distilling laws in place, he had to destroy his still and get rid of the whisky he had in hand. “I am headed for the village of Bowmore to hand over this keg to the Excise Officer and to tell him that I’ll never make whisky again,” he said. .
The officer feted him on his honesty and told him that he was the Excise Officer from Bowmore, calling for the Ileach put on an act of surprise. He was reluctantly about to hand over the keg when the Excise Officer stopped him. “Well, my honest man, when you reach Bowmore, would you please go to my house and deliver that keg to my wife to put under the bed beside the other one I have there.” So he went to Bowmore and sold the whisky to a regular buyer. .
He then went to the Excise house, knocked at the door and told the lady that he met her husband on the road and that he was to collect a keg of whisky kept for him upstairs under the bed. She invited him in and asked him to pick up the heavy keg by himself. He did so with alacrity and was warmly thanked by the good lady who even gave him a tip for all his trouble.
He promptly sold the keg of whisky to his buyer and disappeared into the hills. The exciseman tried to trace him later, but he had vanished into the Scottish gloom.
Campbeltown is also not immune to a haunting or two and the Glen Scotia distillery has one very specific spectre that haunts them. This is the story of Duncan MacCallum, the founder of the Benromach Distillery Company in 1898, who died in what today’s distillery manager Iain McAlister calls “mysterious circumstances.” close to the Glen Scotia distillery.
According to Berry Bros & Rudd, on the night before Christmas Eve in 1930, local industrialist and distillery owner Duncan drowned himself in Crosshill Loch after a dodgy business deal which lost him a fortune. Whatever the truth of the matter, his ghost remains at the distillery to this day – meaning that many employees won’t venture into certain areas after dark. Moreover, MacCallum’s ghost remains at the distillery and will allegedly make his presence known to visiting contractors to ensure no more business deals go bad for the distillery! Crosshill Loch was later made famous in a popular song by Scots entertainer, Andy Stewart. The singer dreams that the loch is full of whisky, not water, and tries to drink it dry.
THE STONES OF MACHRIE MOOR
The Arran Machrie Moor Peated Single Malt Whisky relates to the Stones of Arran. On the rear label, you will find this story:
"The Peated Arran. Lightly peated at 20 ppm, this mythical malt has proved a popular addition to the Arran range. On the west coast of the Isle of Arran lies a windswept and mystical peat bog called Machrie Moor. Bronze Age stone circles and standing stones are strewn across its barren, undulating terrain. One of the stone circles is known as Fingal’s Cauldron Seat, where sits a stone with a carved hole. The legendary warrior giant Fingal is said to have tethered his favourite dog Bran to this stone. This peated expression of the Arran Single Malt perfectly captures the rugged beauty and lore of the landscape. Unleash the legend that is Machrie Moor."
|Standing stones on Machrie Moor. To the right of the largest stone is Goat Fell, Arran's highest mountain.|
There are six stone circles located immediately east of the now-derelict Moss Farm. The stone circles are the most prominent monuments on the moor today, erected in about 2000 BC. There is evidence to show that these stones replaced timber circles, first created in 3500 BC.
A wide variety of circles are found on Machrie Moor. Only the one closest to Moss Farm consists of two concentric rings. The most striking is Circle 2. This is now represented by three tall, slender stones (up to 5.5m high), but originally consisted of seven or eight stones. One of its fallen stones now lies in two pieces, fashioned into millstones which never made it to their 18th-century mill.
The circles were associated with the religious and ceremonial activities of the Neolithic and Bronze Age farmers living on Machrie Moor. The stone circles aligned with a prominent notch at the head of Machrie Glen, where the midsummer sunrise would have been visible. Later on, the circles were used for burials, including cremations and inhumations for prominent members of the community. A fine food vessel was found in the middle of circle 2.
The stone circle known as ‘Fingal’s Cauldron Seat’ is named after Fingal the giant – a mythic figure probably derived from the Irish Fionn Mac Cumhail. One stone has a hole in it. This is where Fingal is said to have tethered his dog Bran while he ate a meal in the inner ring.
The Women’s Only Club
Since its inception in 1839, The Dalmore single malt has been at the very forefront of innovation. Maturation in a range of casks, including Sherry casks available only to the distillery, deliver whiskies of uncommon depth and elegance: the Dalmore house style derives from a close and trusted relationship that was forged with sherry house González Byass over 100 years ago. The rare casks, which have previously held 30-year-old Matusalem oloroso sherry, are exclusive to The Dalmore. These casks enrich the signature chocolate and orange character of our whisky with rich and nutty flavours.
Glenlivet is not only a distillery, but also a general area in Speyside. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Whisky made here became known as some of the best drams in Scotland, due to their characteristic smoothness.
It was mixed with Balvenie’s traditional malted home barley, ready for their signature Balvenie mash. Turning a deep, dark burnt black-brown, this unusual one-off batch of barley was part of an experiment undertaken at The Balvenie at a time of significant change.
This unique whisky was originally released in 2006, as The Balvenie Roasted Malt Aged 14 Years. It was the first single malt Scotch whisky to be made using a batch of dark roasted malted barley, more commonly used in the production of stout.
Dallas Dhu was the last of the Speyside distilleries to be connected with Victorian entrepreneur Alexander Edward, the site for the plant being on his estate. In 1899, he sold it to the blending firm Wright & Greig, whose brand was Roderick Dhu.
It has not produced whisky since 1983 when it closed due to a water shortage. Since 1988 Dallas Dhu has been a non-working distillery museum and it now seems unlikely to operate as a working distillery again after the license was returned in 1992. However, there is a small chance of it re-opening as apparently most of the distillery apparatus is still in place. Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which manages the site in Forres, Moray, has submitted a public notice “inviting proposals from any interested parties” to develop the Speyside distillery. This is not the first time the site has been considered for reopening. In September 2015, the Scottish Government said it was assessing the feasibility of the project.
This defunct distillery located in Forres, is now a visitor attraction. Many visitors claim that they felt a 'strong and intelligent' presence around them when touring the museum distillery. Those who mention this to the staff members are told the story of the distillery employee who drowned in one of the massive mash tuns decades earlier. If their tales are to be believed, when the visitor centre gets quieter, steps and unexplained noises are often heard where the malting floors once were. The old and stiff light switches appear to be turned at night and very often, workers will go to the distillery in the morning and find the lights on.
An Unsung Hero of Scotch Whisky History
Clàr Àrainneachd Eachdraidheil na Ghàidhealtachd
Francis Humberston Mackenzie was a very remarkable man. He was born in 1794, and although deaf, and latterly dumb, he was, by the force of his natural abilities and the favour of fortune, able to fill an important position in the world. It would have been already observed that the "Last of the Seaforths" was born in full possession of all his faculties and that he only became deaf from the effects of a severe attack of scarlet fever, while a boy in school, which we have previously noticed in connection with his remarkable dream. He continued to speak a little, and it was only towards the close of his life, and particularly during the last two years, that he was unable to articulate--or perhaps, unwilling to make the attempt, on finding himself the last male of his line. He may be said to have, prior to this, fairly recovered the use of speech, for he was able to converse pretty distinctly; but he was so totally deaf, that all communications were made to him by signs or in writing.
DALMORE - TALES OF A LEWIS VILLAGE
At this time in Dalbeg, people here were being "moved". One of these was the oldest man in the village. His home was at Cuil a Mhullach (between the present Dalbeg and the quarry) and he was being carried from his house by four men using a bed cover. When they were leaving the village, he asked the men to stop and to turn him around to face the Cleit (Dalbeg's highest hill)where he had spent his youth. Looking at the Cleit, he addressed the hill thus. "How I envy you. At least, they will never be able to remove you!”
In 1917 production ceased as the Royal Navy was using the warehouses as factories to produce mines. After they left in 1920, part of the distillery had been damaged by fire following an explosion in the warehouses and Dalmore only resumed production in 1922, while Andrew Mackenzie took the Navy to court in a row over compensation.
According to the Whyte & Mackay website: "The company became part of Sir Hugh Fraser's SUITS group in 1971. Two years later Tomintoul and Fettercairn distilleries were purchased. SUITS was acquired by Lonrho in 1981 and subsequently, Whyte & Mackay was sold to Brent Walker in 1988 and then to American Brands (now Fortune Brands) in 1990."
The Whyte and Mackay company name was changed in 1996 to JBB (Europe). American Brands had become Fortune Brands by the time JBB (Europe) staged a management buyout in 2001, changing their name to Kyndal Spirits. This name change proved a confusion too far, though, and the following year Kyndal returned to being called Whyte and Mackay.
|Dun Bheagan Castle|
Auchenbathie, Auchinbathie Tower or rarely Barcraigs Tower is a ruined fortification, a tower house, once held by the Wallace Clan of Elderslie, situated in Renfrewshire, Parish of Lochwinnoch, Scotland.
Fultons of Auchenbathie: The Fultons of Auchenbathie were a cadet branch of the old Grangehill family. Fulton of that Ilk is said to have moved here following the loss of their lands in the parish of Kilbarchan. John Fulton was a staunch Jacobite and acquired considerable wealth through smuggling. Contraband was transported inland on horseback, owing to the bad state of the roads. In 1748 John Fulton of Auchenbathie was killed by David Malloch, an excise officer, whilst smuggling spirits near Pollockshaw. Auchenbathie tower was sold off.
Wilson of Auchenbathie: Saunders Wilson was a Paisley weaver and also made illicit whisky. To pursue his whisky distilling he decided to move to Auchenbathie Tower which was not only a safer place but also Beith at that time was a centre of smuggling. In 1785 he had a son Alan whose birth to his wife Katherine Brown is recorded in the parish register. Quite probably, Alan continued smuggling whisky.
The Caledonian Mercury of Thursday 7th November 1822 recounted the story of Thomas Wilson, an officer of excise within the town of Beith who witnessed an innocent-looking horse and cart undergo the town before having his suspicions raised when four stout Highlanders followed behind, apparently offering some protection of the cargo. Mr Wilson gave chase and at the Toll Bar outside Kilbirnie, he attempted to seize the cart and its cargo. For his troubles, he was attacked by the four Highlanders and thrown into a ditch, where they “proceeded to abuse him within the most barbarous manner” whilst the fifth man escaped with the horse and cart.
Two local lads came to the exciseman’s rescue and together, the three gave chase, eventually coming to a stop in Barr, near Lochwinnoch where they found nine casks of whisky abandoned by the roadside. Contained within was some eighty or ninety gallons of whisky but in time they were once more beset by the Highlanders, leading to a “severe and unremitting skirmish” that only ended when some Lochwinnoch men chased the smugglers away. Despite suffering considerable personal injury, the officer accomplished his task and delivered the number of smuggled whisky to the excise office in Beith. Distilling was legalised in 1823.
The London Courier and Evening Gazette of 23 May 1836 carried a billboard from Henry Brett & Co… “The admirers of illicitly-distilled spirit have now a rare opportunity of laying during a stock of true poteen Scotch of extraordinary age and flavour, from actual seizures recently submitted to sale by the Honourable Commissioners of Excise, of which we were purchasers.”
In Scotland, it is customary for a fair amount of whisky to be consumed at a funeral, which often leads to quite spirited services. Indeed, the custom has even led to the saying 'A Scottish funeral is often merrier than an English wedding.'
In the years before motorised transport, the recently deceased would be carried from their homes to the local kirk, and funerals would often involve the entire community, who would share drams and stories of the recently departed as the coffin was carried along on its fateful journey. One such funeral was that of Miss Jessy Colquhoun of Angus. The community had gathered to see her off and the men had raised her coffin to carry her to the kirkyard. Led by her brother Jamie, the men set off on the four-mile journey to the kirk. In those days, it was customary for the men to stop at each inn they passed to toast the deceased and to take a rest before resuming the journey.
At each stop, the coffin would be laid upon Lecker stanes, flat stones designed for just such a job. The funeral party set off at just after noon and made a stop at each of the three inns on the way to the kirk. Arriving at the kirkyard and now nearing sunset, Jamie apologised to Auld Tam the gravedigger for being late, swaying slightly as he did so.
Auld Tam nodded before saying: "That's aw very well but where's Miss Jessy?"
Jamie turned to look at the party, which by now had swelled to almost a hundred strong, only to realise they'd left the coffin at the last inn. Six of the youngest (and soberest) boys were dispatched with haste to retrieve her.
It is from this story that many believe the phrase 'being late for one's own funeral' arose.
From legends we learn that St Andrews is possessed of a prodigious number of supernatural appearances of different kinds, sizes, and shapes—most of them of an awe-inspiring and blood curdling type. In fact, so numerous are they—more than 80 in number—that there is really no room for any modern aspirants who may want a quiet place to appear and turn people's hair white.
There is the celebrated Phantom Coach that champion jockey Willie Carson tells us about. It has been heard and seen by many. There is also a white lady that used to haunt the Abbey Road, the Haunted Tower ghost, the Blackfriars ghost, the wraith of Hackston of Rathillet, the spectre of the old Castle, the Dancing Skeletons, the smothered Piper Lad, the Phantom Bloodhound, the Priory Ghost, and many, many more. We could first get to some story of relevance before adding a hackles-raiser, the tale of "The Veiled Nun of St Leonards Church Avenue."
Kingsbarns Distillery, the brain-child of former St Andrews golf caddie Douglas Clement was five years in the planning but took just 18 months to build. All new distilleries, regardless of the scale, need a lot of working capital, but Clement had little beyond a box full of business cards gathered as a caddie for wealthy golfers at Kingsbarns Golf Links on the Fife coast, a few miles from St Andrews.
Realising there was no nearby whisky distillery to satisfy the thirst of the course’s visitors, and having come across a derelict 18th-century farm steading on the Cambo Estate, situated just a short distance from Kingsbarns, Clement decided to build his own. Despite all efforts, he couldn’t manage the funding and sold out to the Wemyss family, owners of Wemyss Malts. Kingsbarns Dream to Dram is the flagship single malt from Kingsbarns Distillery in the Lowlands.
The relics of St Andrew (Patron Saint of Scotland) were brought to what was then known as Kilrimont or Cennrígmonaid (now St Andrews) by Bishop Acca of Hexham. There is an alternative and probably more fanciful story, that Saint Rule (also known as St Regulus) brought a number of St Andrew's bones here by boat in 347 AD, having sailed from Patras in Greece and eventually surviving a shipwreck near the site of today's harbour.
One of the best-known ghosts is that of the friendly monk in St Rules tower, all that remains of the original St Rules Church. It was in the late 1950s that the tale gained in popularity when a visitor made the long climb up the tight spiral staircase to the top of the 100-foot high tower. As he did so, he stumbled on the old, worn stairs and was offered assistance by a gentleman who was coming down the stairs.
The visitor politely declined the help and the man continued past towards the bottom of the tower. After spending some time completely alone at the top of the tower, the visitor returned to the staircase and, as he descended, he became aware of just how narrow they were and his thoughts turned to the man he had encountered earlier. The stairs are far too narrow for two people to stand side by side, yet he had not felt the man even brush against him as they had passed. He also recalled that he had been wearing some form of a robe, an unusual choice of garment. Upon reaching the bottom of the tower, the visitor spotted a custodian and asked about the other man.
The custodian assured him no one else had been up the tower but, upon hearing his story, assured him that he had simply encountered the spirit of the monk, who comes to the aid of those who struggle with the stairs. The ghost is believed to be that of Robert de Montrose, who was a prior at the cathedral in the 14th century. A young monk in his care named Thomas Platter was particularly disruptive, yet Montrose refused to give up on him, believing everyone had some good in them.
Platter however did not appreciate the faith his Prior had in him, and while spending a night locked up due to yet another misdemeanour, he plotted his revenge and, in 1393, he followed Montrose as he went about his nightly duties and stabbed him several times in the back. The prior survived long enough to identify his assailant, who after a short trial was sentenced to imprisonment on limited rations and was, in effect, starved to death. It seems Montrose has never lost his faith in people, still returning to offer help to those in need.
The Nun of St Leonards is as curious and interesting as any of them, though a bit weird and gruesome. In the time of Queen Mary Stuart, there lived in the old South Street a very lovely lady belonging to a very old Scottish family, and her beauty and wit brought many admirers to claim her hand, but with little or no success. She waved them all away. At last she became affianced to a fine and brave young fellow who came from the East Lothian country, and all went merrily as a marriage bell, but clouds overspread the rosy horizon. She resolved that she would never become an earthly bride, but would become a bride of Holy Church—a nun, in point of fact. When her lover heard that she had left home and entered a house of Holy Sisters, he announced his intention of rushing to St Andrews, seizing her, and marrying her at once, a project the young lady's parents blessed. He left immediately, and there received a terrible shock. On meeting this once lovely and loved maiden, he discovered that she had actually done what she had written and threatened to do. Sooner than be an earthly bride she had mutilated her face by slitting her nostrils, cut off her eyelids and both her top and bottom lips, and had branded her cheeks with hot irons.
The poor youth fled in grief to Edinburgh, where he committed suicide, and she died from grief and remorse. That all happened nearly 400 years ago; but her spirit with the terribly marred and mutilated face still wanders o' nights in the peaceful little avenue to old St Leonard’s iron Kirk gate down the Pends Road. She is all dressed in black, with a long black veil over the once lovely face, and carries a lantern in her hand. Should any bold visitor to that avenue meet her, she slowly sweeps her face veil aside, raises the lantern to her scarred face, and discloses those awful features to his horrified gaze. Many have seen her.
A decade ago, an acquaintance was walking up and down Pends Road and thought he would take a survey of the little avenue when at the end he saw a light approaching him, and he turned back to meet it. Thinking it was a policeman, he wished him "Good evening," but got no reply. Once nearer, he saw it to be a veiled female with a lantern. Getting quite close, she stopped in front of him, drew aside her long veil, and held up the lantern towards him. "My God," said he, "I can never forget or describe that terrible, fearful face. I felt choked, and I fell like a log at her feet. Some kind soul has brought me back, but I leave tomorrow"—and he did by the first train. We never saw him again, but I had a letter from him a year later, telling me that on Christmas day he had had another vision, dream, or whatever it was, of the same awful spectre. Some months later, I read in a paper that he had died on Christmas night of heart failure. I often wonder if the dear old chap had had another visit from the terrible Veiled Nun of St Leonards Avenue.
In the early days, there was a strong belief in "familiars" and ghosts. A familiar is an animal-shaped spirit who serves for witchery, a demon or other magician-related subjects. Familiars were imagined to serve their owners as domestic servants, farmhands, spies, and companions, in addition to helping bewitch enemies. In this story however the familiar is the appearance of a person who was known to be somewhere else.
The Port Ellen Haunting
Next, is the haunting in Port Ellen. Now a country hotel, this building was once a distillery. When the building was still in use as a distillery in the nineteenth century, a thirsty burglar paid a visit. Indeed, being surrounded by barrels of fine malt whisky, he had a tipple or two or three or four. As a result, not being sharp with sobriety, he made for the closest exit. Unfortunately, this was a second-floor window! He did not survive the fall and is said to still haunt the building to this day. From time to time he can be seen at the spot where he fell surprising any visitors in his path. The window has since been bricked over.
Highland Park Valknut
The Valknut (pronounced VAL-knoot) is one of the most widely-discussed yet enigmatic of all of the symbols that appear in connection with Norse mythology. Visually, it’s comprised of three interlocking triangles. Archaeologically, it appears on several runestones and pictorial memorial stones that date from the Viking Age. Valknut is a modern Norwegian compound word that means “knot of those fallen in battle” and was introduced by Norwegians who lived long after the Viking Age.
In the archaeological record, the Valknut appears only in connection with the cult of the dead, as in the aforementioned runestones and ship burial. Similar-looking symbols can also be found on the cremation urns of the Anglo-Saxons. In most of these cases, Odin is also present. To find associations with both death and Odin together is no surprise, since Odin was, among many, many other things, a psychopomp –a figure who ferries the spirits of the dead to the underworld and then back to the world of the living – as well as the leader of various hosts of the dead, such as the warriors of Valhalla and of the Wild Hunt.
Captain Beaton of the Gordon Highlanders knew very well the horrors of the Western Front during WWI. He had been seriously wounded there and was recuperating in Aberdeen when he was recalled for duty and told to join the 3rd Battalion The Gordon Highlanders at their King Street barracks in March 1918. The next morning, he was found hanging in the Officer’s Mess in the southeast turret of the building.
The military authorities erased him from the records for his “cowardice”. But Captain Beaton’s story doesn’t end there. Following his tragic death, there were reports of supernatural occurrences, sudden cold spots, weird noises – and of an officer in full regimental dress spotted roaming in the building.
The site manager for the developer Stewart Milne, told of his experience. “It was a warm March evening and I was walking down the south stairs. I felt a freezing cold breeze rush by me. It was really freaky.”He was not the only one to be freaked. A brick worker was also left shaken. “I was in a room with other workers and all of a sudden a one-way sign that was leaning against a wall started to rattle. The windows were all closed and there was no breeze coming through.”The Evening Express report of the ghostly goings-on in 2010 also said a length of rope was found in the rafters of the south turret during the refurbishment work.
But stories of Captain Beaton go back well beyond just a decade. There is a tale of a young girl visiting her aunt when the barracks were converted to houses just after the First World War. She was playing in the loft and saw a soldier who suddenly vanished. As old-timer Joe Mackie recalls, “I remember in my days when I was there as a conductor and driver there was a canteen area that drivers and conductors who were waiting to go on to their buses or tram cars sat in. There were certain individuals who were pretty scared to go up there and sit alone. They were okay if there were a few of them, but they wouldn’t go up on their own because of this ghostly feeling.”
The bright, modern facilities were opened by the Princess Royal in 2010 – which brought the Army back on parade. Captain Beaton seems to have quietened down of late – perhaps the salute of honour to the military history of King Street has soothed his troubled soul.
Glen Moray distillery lies nestling on the banks of the river Lossie in the Western quarter of the ancient city and royal burgh of Elgin. Glen Moray Single Malt Whisky has been distilled on-site since 1897 by a small dedicated team of craftsmen. In over a century of distilling at Glen Moray, much has changed, however, the ingredients, processes and skills of those responsible for producing Glen Moray remain constant.
Glen Moray distillery had always been a workhorse for Glenmorangie's blended products and cheap supermarket own-label brands. This clearly would not fit with the philosophy of new owners since 2104, Louis Vuitton - Moet Hennessy (LVMH) and few were surprised when in late 2008 it was announced that Glen Moray had been sold to the French company La Martiniquaise. It seems likely that the bulk of Glen Moray's output will now end up in the new owner's flagship Label 5 blended whisky, most prevalent in the Far East.
The original road into Elgin passes through the distillery grounds under the shadow of Gallow Hill, where executions were carried out until the end of the 17th century. The old road into Elgin passes right through the distillery grounds which have been witness, through the centuries, to the ebb and flow of the nation's legends, triumphs and disasters. A litany of names: St Columba, Edward the First, the 'Hammer of the Scots', the Wolf of Badenoch who burnt down the city's cathedral. Macbeth, High Steward of Moray, later King of Scotland pursued the wounded Duncan after the Battle of Torfness to his death in Elgin. Prince Charles retreated this way to Culloden Moor followed by 'Butcher' Cumberland and the Hanoverian forces. During an expansion decades ago, grim reminders of its dark times were unearthed, including seven skulls which for years were displayed within the distillery before being properly re-buried.
There is a tantalising assertion in Misako Udo’s book ‘The Scottish Whisky Distilleries’ that Aberlour distillery “is haunted by a lady and a dog.” Surprisingly, Misako could not remember where she read about it. Nobody else can recall such a story. So here is a spectral snippet waiting either for deeper research or for someone to make up a story to fit. Aberlour does have a ‘Fairy Knowe’ at the rear of the distillery. This signpost to another realm is even marked on the Ordnance Survey map. The name Aberlour itself means ‘mouth of the chattering burn’ and this suggests a pre-Christian belief in talking spirits. Yet people say they sometimes hear the voices of ancient Celts coming from the burn. Hearing voices is not always a good sign.
At Dailuaine, in previous times, lived an infamous outlaw and smuggler, James Grant, known as ‘James of the Hills,’ whose bothy was supposed to be haunted. Alfred Barnard tells the story: “A popular legend has it that the midnight wanderer may yet see pieces of evidence of their craft and that the darker the night and the wilder the weather the more likely is he to stumble across the haunted bothy, which is situated in a rocky cavern in a ravine through which rushes one of the Dail-Uaine Burns. There the still-fires are seen weirdly sparkling like eyes of diamonds, and the ghosts of the departed smugglers busy at their ancient avocation.”
In another reference to smugglers’ ghosts, Barnard tells a story from Glendarroch distillery in Ardrishaig: “Tradition says that there is a smuggler imprisoned in the heart of the hill, who is kept in durance vile by the avenging spirit of a revenue officer whose life he took.“He is allowed to come forth once a year at midnight, on the anniversary of the day upon which the crime was committed, and should he then happen to meet the spirit of the comrade who betrayed him to the officers of the law, the spell would be broken and he released.”
Most distillery ghosts are the un-departed spirits of people who died there, usually in unfortunate circumstances. Glen Ord is haunted by a former maltman, Cardhu by a mashman, the ghost of Mr Cochran Cartwright (manager 1869 – 1899) walks Glengoyne, Glen Spey is the sad limbo of a soldier who committed suicide and Glen Scotia is troubled by the ghost of a former proprietor who drowned himself in Campbeltown Loch after being conned out of his savings. Glenkinchie has multiple ghosts, including a former maltman Gentle Tam, Mrs Redpath and Mischievous Willie, who throws distillery guides across the floor.
Not all ghosts are harmful. The wife of John Haig took to her bed and refused to get up when he died suddenly in 1773 until the ghost of her dead mother spoke to her. Encouraged by what the ghost told her, she left her bed and set her sons on the path to founding the Haig whisky dynasty. Ghosts may ‘appear’ but it is difficult for the living to initiate contact with revenants. Paul Pacult tried when he spent the night in the chilly, silent darkness of a warehouse at Highland Park hoping to meet the ghost of founder Magnus Eunson. He heard clanking sounds and a gust of wind brought “a rolling wave of rich, almost vanilla-like fragrance,” but he never saw Eunson. Talking to the watchman in the morning, he discovered, that there had been no one in the distillery and that far from windy, it had been ‘calm as the dead all night.’ Highland Park workers continue to maintain that Magnus Eunson does wander the place after dark.
In 2003, the Bruichladdich distillery on Islay came to the attention of the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency(DTRA). The small distillery had webcams from which internet browsers could view the day-to-day running of the distillery. The webmaster received an email from “Ursula” who told him that one of their cameras was a bit wonky. The webmaster emailed back thanking Ursula and on further enquiry found that he was corresponding with the DTRA who had been monitoring the place as a potential security threat!
A WHIRLPOOL, A VIKING PRINCE AND ARDBEG
Apparently, the whirlpool is named after the Viking Prince Breacan, who perished when he attempted to prove his love for an Islay princess by lasting three full nights on a boat in the whirlpool’s swirl. Goddess, Cailleach Bheare, guardian of the whirlpool, took pity on Prince Breacan and brought him down to her dark lair at the bottom of the sea where he has slept ever since. Lo and behold, he has finally awoken in a bottle of whisky.
In Gaelic (Irish, Scottish and Manx) myth, the Cailleach is a divine hag and ancestor, associated with the creation of the landscape and with the weather, especially storms and winter. In modern Irish folklore studies, she is also known as The Hag of Beara, while in Scotland she is also known as Beira, Queen of Winter.
The Cailleach is often referred to as the Cailleach Bhéara[ch] in Irish and Cailleach Bheurra[ch] in Scottish Gaelic. Gearóid Ó Crualaoich believes this comes from a word meaning 'sharp, shrill, inimical' – bior[ach] or beur[ach] – and refers to the Cailleach's association with winter and wilderness, as well as her association with horned beasts or cattle. The 8th- to 9th-century Irish poem The Lament of the Old Woman says that the Cailleach's name is Digdi or Digde. In Manx Gaelic, she is known as the Caillagh.
In Scotland, 20th-century folklorist Donald Alexander Mackenzie has named her Beira, Queen of Winter and she is credited with making numerous mountains and large hills, said to have been formed when she was striding across the land and accidentally dropped rocks from her creel or wicker basket. In other cases she is said to have built the mountains intentionally, to serve as her stepping stones. She carries a hammer for shaping the hills and valleys and is said to be the mother of all the goddesses and gods. According to Mackenzie, Beira was a one-eyed giantess with white hair, dark blue skin, and rust-coloured teeth. The Cailleach displays several traits befitting the personification of winter: she herds deer, she fights spring, and her staff freezes the ground.
In partnership with the goddess Brìghde, the Cailleach is seen as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between Samhainn (1 November or first day of winter) and Bealltainn (1 May or first day of summer), while Brìghde rules the summer months between Bealltainn and Samhainn. Some interpretations have the Cailleach and Brìghde as two faces of the same goddess, while others describe the Cailleach as turning to stone on Bealltainn and reverting to humanoid form on Samhainn in time to rule over the winter months. Depending on local climate, the transfer of power between the winter goddess and the summer goddess is celebrated any time between Là Fhèill Brìghde (1 February) at the earliest, Latha na Cailliche (25 March) or Bealltainn (1 May) at the latest, and the local festivals marking the arrival of the first signs of spring may be named after either the Cailleach or Brìghde.
Là Fhèill Brìghde is also the day the Cailleach gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. If she intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on 1 February is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood to keep herself warm in the coming months. As a result, people are generally relieved if Là Fhèill Brìghde is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep, will soon run out of firewood, and therefore winter is almost over.
On the west coast of Scotland, the Cailleach ushers in winter by washing her great plaid in the Gulf of Corryvreckan (Gaelic: Coire Bhreacain - 'whirlpool/cauldron of the plaid'). This process is said to take three days, during which the roar of the coming tempest is heard as far away as twenty miles (32 km) inland. When she is finished, her plaid is pure white and snow covers the land.
The Cailleach is prominent in the landscape of Argyll and Bute, Scotland. She is also known as the Cailleach nan Cruachan ("the witch of Ben Cruachan"). Ben Cruachan is the tallest mountain in the region. Tea towels and postcards of her are sold in the visitor shop for the Hollow Mountain, which also features a mural depicting her accidental creation of Loch Awe. Legend has it that the Cailleach was tired from a long day herding deer. Atop Ben Cruachan, she fell asleep on her watch and a well she was tending overflowed, running down from the highlands and flooding the valleys below, forming first a river and then the loch. She is also associated with other Scottish mountains. Ben Nevis was said to be her "mountain throne".
Such then is the background to Ardbeg's highest-proof whisky, all of 57.1% ABV, The Ardbeg Corryvreckan.
The much older village of Mortlach preceded Dufftown and sits next to the Mortlach Church, an ancient monument and one of the oldest places of continual worship in Scotland. The Mortlach Church is believed to have been founded by St. Moulag in 566. It appears that prior to the building of the church, the site was used as a place of Pictish worship. There is a Pictish stone in the graveyard in the shape of a cross, known as the battle stone and standing 1.75 metres high. Another older stone, the elephant stone was found in the churchyard in 1925 and has now been built into the wall of the church. Some parts of the original church still exist, heavily reconstructed through 1876 and final restoration work was undertaken in 1931.
The Battle of Mortlach took place in 1010 and was fought by King Malcolm II against the invading Viking Danes led by Enetus (or Enecus) who was the General of the forces of Sweyn Forkbeard. Malcolm II (or Mael Coluim mac Cinaeda) was King of Alba from 25 March 1005 to his death on 25 November 1034.
The first clashes of the battle were near the site between Mortlach church and what is now Mortlach distillery. The Scots attacked quickly and with speed. The Danes repelled the advancing Scots and the Scots suffered heavy losses. Three thrains (or lords) were slain, Kenneth of the Isles, Dunbar of Lothian, and Graeme of Strathern and the Scots fled along with Malcolm.
Malcolm was able to stop the retreat at the monastery dedicated to St Molocus or St Moluag and gathered his remaining forces. At this point, he kneeled in the graveyard of the church and prayed for the help of God and St Molag. The monks associated with the church and nearby monastery saw that Malcolm was a good Christian and with Malcolm's promise to enlarge their church by 3 spear lengths they joined Malcolm's forces.
With their help and the advantage of the higher ground, the Scots re-engaged the Danes who were spread out due to the speed of their pursuit. The tide of the battle changed. Enetus was slain by the prowess of Malcolm, who threw Enetus off his horse and strangled him.
Enetus was buried with a huge and irregularly blue-black roundish stone over his grave which was brought from his homeland. For many years after the elders of the area would meet at the grave every New Year to salute the grave with a dram. The stone was later rolled some distance away and made a part of a fence around a field of corn. This stone then became known as the Aquavitae Stone as the men who struggled to move the stone were rewarded for their labour with a pint of whisky which they drank over the stone. The location of the stone has since been lost.
Malcolm kept his promise to enlarge what is now Mortlach Church. The obelisk on the banks of the Dullan is said to have been erected to mark the victory. The Battle Stone is certainly a late Pictish symbol stone of green slate, and does probably date from the mid-11th century. It is a Class II stone, i.e. it bears Christian symbols on one side and more traditional Pictish symbols on the other. In this case, the stone has an incised Celtic-style cross, a pair of fishmongers and a beast on one side, and a serpent, ox skull, bird, dog, and horseman on the other. The stone stands about 1.75 metres high (just over 5.5 feet), and can be found beside the path in the lowest part of the graveyard. The Battle Stone is only one of two Pictish stones at Mortlach. The other, probably older, is in the church vestibule. This second stone has an incised carving of a beast, possibly an elephant, and a curved symbol which may represent a brooch.
Dufftown square has an attractive clock tower at the crossroads in its town centre, the focal point of the town. The three-storey tower was constructed of grey granite with pink granite dressings in 1839 and was originally the Dufftown jail. The tower was originally topped by a leaded steeple; it now has a bellcote with a leaded ogee roof, ball finial and weathervane. Later it became the burgh chambers. It also had a spell as a private home. Until recently it housed the tourist information centre. The clock itself was originally from Banff and is known locally as "the clock that hanged Macpherson".
Macpherson was a man of magnificent stature, strength and intellect; an expert swordsman and an accomplished fiddler. He, with his band of outlaws, terrorised the landed gentry and he earned a reputation as a Scottish Robin Hood by stealing from the wealthy and sharing the spoils with the less fortunate.
Macpherson was finally captured in Keith by a posse organised by his arch-enemy, Lord Duff of Braco. He was tried in Banff and condemned to hang. On the day of the execution, Lord Braco heard that a lone rider was approaching from Turriff with a reprieve. Legend has it that he had the town clock turned forward by fifteen minutes to ensure the execution was not stopped. The people involved in moving the clock forward were punished lightly, and for many years afterwards the clock was kept fifteen minutes fast, as a reminder of that fateful day.
THE DEATH BOGLE OF THE CROSS ROADS: PITLOCHRY
A week or so after a writer to Pitlochry had settled in a rented floor of a gracious lady’s home, he took, at her suggestion, a rest from his writing, and spent the day on Loch Tay, leaving again for "Donald Murray House" at seven o'clock in the evening. He cycled, and after a hard but thoroughly enjoyable spell of pedalling, eventually came to a standstill on the high road, a mile or two from the first lights of Pitlochry. He halted, not through fatigue, but because he was entranced with the delightful atmosphere, and wanted to draw in a few really deep draughts of it before turning into bed. His halting place was on a triangular plot of grass at the junction of four roads.
He remained there for ten minutes and was about to remount his bicycle when he suddenly became icy cold, and a frightful, hideous terror seized and gripped him so hard that the machine, slipping from his palsied hands, fell to the ground with a crash. The next instant something—its outline blurred and indefinite—alighted on the open space in front of him with a soft thud, and remained standing as bolt upright as a cylindrical pillar. From afar off, there then came the low rumble of wheels, which momentarily grew in intensity, until there thundered into view a waggon, weighed down beneath a monstrous stack of hay, on the top of which sat a man in a wide-brimmed straw hat, engaged in a deep confabulation with a boy in corduroys who sprawled beside him. The horse, catching sight of the motionless "thing" opposite me, at once stood still and snorted violently. The man cried out, "Hey! hey! What's the matter with ye, beast?" And then in a hysterical kind of screech, "Great God! What's yon figure that I see? What's yon figure, Tammas?"
The boy immediately raised himself into a kneeling position, and, clutching hold of the man's arm, screamed, "I dinna ken, I dinna ken, Matthew; but take heed, mon, it does na touch me. It's me it's come after, na ye."
The moonlight was so strong that the faces of the speakers were revealed to him with extraordinary vividness, and their horrified expressions were even more startling than was the silent, ghastly figure of the Unknown. The scene comes back with its every detail as clearly marked as on the night it was first enacted. The long-range of cone-shaped mountains, darkly silhouetted against the silvery sky, and seemingly hushed in gaping expectancy; the shining, scaly surface of some far-off tarn or river, perceptible only at intervals, owing to the thick clusters of gently nodding pines; the white-washed walls of cottages, glistening amid the dark green denseness of the thickly leaved box trees, and the light, feathery foliage of the golden laburnum; the undulating meadows, besprinkled with gorse and grotesquely moulded crags of granite; the white, the dazzling white roads, saturated with moonbeams; all—all were overwhelmed with stillness—the stillness that belongs, and belongs only, to the mountains, and trees, and plains—the stillness of shadowland.
And while these minute particulars were being driven into his soul, the cause of it all—the indefinable, esoteric column—stood silent and motionless over against the hedge, a baleful glow emanating from it.
The horse suddenly broke the spell. Dashing its head forward, it broke off at a gallop, and, tearing frantically past the phantasm, went helter-skelter down the road to my left. Tammas turned a somersault, miraculously saved from falling head first onto the road, by rebounding from the pitchfork which had been wedged upright in the hay, whilst the figure, which followed in their wake with prodigious bounds, was apparently trying to get at him with its spidery arms. But whether it succeeded or not is unknown, as he mounted the bicycle and rode as never ridden before and never ridden since.
The landlady seemed very serious. "It was stupid of me not to have warned you," she said. "That particular spot in the road has always—at least ever since I can remember—borne the reputation of being haunted. None of the peasants round here will venture within a mile of it after twilight, so the carters you saw must have been strangers. No one has ever seen the ghost except in the misty form in which it appeared to you. It does not frequent the place every night; it only appears periodically; and its method never varies. It leaps over a wall or hedge, remains stationary till someone approaches, and then pursues them with monstrous springs. The person it touches invariably dies within a year. I well recollect when I was in my teens, on just such a night as this, driving home with my father from Lady Colin Ferner's croquet party at Blair Atholl. A gigantic figure, with leaps and bounds, suddenly overtook us, and, thrusting out its long, thin arms, touched my father lightly on the hand, and then with a harsh cry, more like that of some strange animal than that of a human being, disappeared. Neither of us spoke till we reached home,—I did not live here then, but in a house on the other side of Pitlochry,—when my father, who was still as white as a sheet, took me aside and whispered, 'Whatever you do, girl, don't breathe a word of what has happened to your mother, and never let her go along that road at night. It was the death bogle. I shall die within twelve months.'And he did.
Glen Spey 11-Year-Old Fable Bottling: Ghost
The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay
Eons ago, a small settlement perched on a sea cliff in Scotland’s wild southwest corner. The four compass points would take you elsewhere – east to the borders, north to the country’s heart, south to glacial lakes and west by boat across the waters - but the locals stayed put, for the land here, which should have been barren was remarkably rich for farming (a well-kept secret).
Lashed by rain, these were hardy folk as tough as the granite rock beneath their feet. They did not complain or scare easily, but for one strange thing. On stormy nights, when the moon was nearly drowned, eerie screams seemed to come from below them.
There, where jarring waves met rugged bay, stood a gaping, hollow cave. The cave was left untouched until, one day as the earth was thawing, an old piper appeared with a dog. The rough hound was as grey as the beard of its owner. The piper was surely the finest in the land (as no doubt was his father before him). His bagpipes were crudely made and yet, from this instrument, came a merry sound that even stopped the crows from cawing. No one had heard such cheerful tunes.
And so, accompanied by his faithful dog, the piper ventured into the cave, playing boldly as we went. At the entrance, the locals waited and listened. Hours passed and the pipes grew quieter until there was no sound at all. Suddenly the hound, once shaggy, ran out of the cave howling, without a single hair left on his shivering body.
Deep underground, the piper continued to play as the fairies yelled, cursing him to leave. On he went, with a chill upon him, towards a distant light. The music soared above the terrible cries until the piper reached the cave’s centre. The piper was now in the mouth of a dreadful storm yet still he played. Furious at being bested by a human, the fairies departed, leaving a labyrinthine of mazes behind them to trap the poor piper inside.
The piper was never seen again and not one settler could later recall his face. The cave’s entrance is now long gone, but hear me! Stand on that cliff in the middle of the night and a faint melody of pipes can still be heard coming from the depths below.
Aberlour: Aberlour distillery is supposedly “haunted by a lady and a dog.” No employee or neighbour knows about these spectral creatures. Aberlour does have a ‘Fairy Knowe’ at the rear of the distillery. This signpost to another realm is even marked on the Ordnance Survey map. The name Aberlour itself means ‘mouth of the chattering burn’ and this suggests a pre-Christian belief in talking spirits.
Dailuaine: At Dailuaine, in previous times, lived an infamous outlaw and smuggler, James Grant, known as ‘James of the Hills,’ whose bothy was supposed to be haunted. Alfred Barnard, a voice from 1887, tells the story: “A popular legend has it that the midnight wanderer may yet see evidence of their craft and that the darker the night and the wilder the weather the more likely is he to stumble across the haunted bothy, which is situated in a rocky cavern in a ravine through which rushes one of the Dail-Uaine Burns. There the still-fires are seen weirdly sparkling like eyes of diamonds, and the ghosts of the departed smugglers busy at their ancient avocation.”
Glendarroch: Barnard, in another reference to smugglers’ ghosts tells a story from Glendarroch distillery in Ardrishaig: Tradition says that there is a smuggler imprisoned in the heart of the hill, who is kept in durance vile by the avenging spirit of a revenue officer whose life he took. He is allowed to come forth once a year at midnight, on the anniversary of the day upon which the crime was committed, and should he then happen to meet the spirit of the comrade who betrayed him to the officers of the law, the spell would be broken and he released.
Trivia: Most distillery ghosts are the un-departed spirits of people who died there, usually in unfortunate circumstances. Glen Ord is haunted by a former maltman, Cardhu by a mashman, the ghost of Mr Cochran Cartwright (manager 1869 – 1899) walks Glengoyne. Glenkinchie has multiple ghosts-- including a former maltman Gentle Tam-- Mrs Redpath and Mischievous Willie, who throws distillery guides across the floor.
Not all ghosts are harmful. The wife of John Haig took to her bed and refused to get up when he died suddenly in 1773 until the ghost of her dead mother spoke to her. Encouraged by what the ghost told her, she left her bed and set her sons on the path to founding the Haig whisky dynasty.
Paul Pacult tried when he spent the night in the chilly, silent darkness of a warehouse at Highland Park hoping to meet the ghost of founder Magnus Eunson. He heard clanking sounds and a gust of wind brought “a rolling wave of rich, almost vanilla-like fragrance,” but he never saw Eunson. Talking to the watchman in the morning, he discovered, that there had been no one in the distillery and that far from windy, it had been ‘calm as the dead all night.’ Highland Park workers continue to maintain that Magnus Eunson does wander the place after dark.