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June 1, 2010 06:25 - June Highland Games and Events

June is a very popular month for Highland Games, so there’s plenty to choose from. And if you just happen to be a world traveler, you might attend games in the Netherlands, Australia, or Scotland…


Lathallan Band courtesy Drumtochty Highland Games

If you can find one near you, go and get a dose of Scottishness…just look at all those colorful kilts, stuff yourself on Scottish goodies, and listen to those pipes a-skirlin’!


Piper Caricature courtesy Drumtochty Highland Games

  • Kincardine, Ontario, Canada ~ Kincardine Scottish Festival and Highland Games
  • June 3 to 6, Lucas, Kentucky ~ Glasgow Highland Games
  • June 4 to 5, North Bay, Ontario, Canada ~ Celtfest
  • June 4 to 6, Arlington Texas ~ Texas Scottish Festival and Highland Games


    2010 Poster courtesy Texas Scottish Festival

  • June 4 to 6, Garrett, Maryland ~ McHenry Highland Festival
  • June 5, Cornhill, Scotland ~ Cornhill Highland Games
  • June 5, Liberty Corner, New Jersey ~ Bonnie Brae Scottish Games
  • June 5, Modesto, California ~ Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans
  • June 5, Shotts, Scotland ~ Shotts Highland Games
    If you’ve been wondering how trews really look on different body types, here you go…


    Drum Majors in Trews courtesy Shotts Highland Games

  • June 5 to 6, Greenville, South Carolina ~ Greenville Scottish Games
  • June 5 to 6, Ferndale, Washington ~ Bellingham Highland Games
  • June 5 to 6, Callander, Ontario, Canada ~ Celtfest Callander
  • June 6, Canton, Ohio ~ Irish - Scottish Festival & Highland Games
  • June 6, Glendale, Wisconsin ~ Milwaukee Scottish Highland Games
  • June 6, Jaffrey, New Hampshire ~ Southern New Hampshire Scottish Games & Celtic Music Festival
  • June 6 to 7, Sterling, Colorado ~ Sterling Celtic Festival
  • June 6 to 12, Albuquerque, New Mexico ~ Zoukfest
  • June 11 to 13, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio ~ The Riverfront Irish Festival
  • June 11 to 13, Riverside, Missouri ~ Kansas City Highland Games
  • June 11 to 13, Worcester, Massachusetts ~ Worcester Irish Music Festival
  • June 11 to 14, Portarlington, Victoria, Australia ~ National Celtic Festival
  • June 12, Georgetown, Ontario, Canada ~ Georgetown Highland Games
  • June 12, Helensburgh, Scotland ~ Helensburgh and Lomond Highland Games
  • June 12, Lakewood, New Jersey ~ New Jersey Irish Festival
  • June 12, Richmond, Rhode Island ~ Rhode Island Scottish Highland Festival
  • June 12, Russell, Ontario, Canada ~ Russell CelticFest
  • June 12 to 13, Blairsville, Georgia ~ Blairsville Scottish Festival and Highland Games
  • June 12 to 13, Leesburg, Virginia ~ Potomac Celtic
  • June 12 to 14, Riverside, Missouri ~ Kansas City Scottish Highland Games & Ceilidh
  • June 13, Clover, South Carolina ~ Clover Scottish Games
  • June 13, Fort Wayne, Indiana ~ Indiana Highland Games
  • June 13, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania ~ Harrisburg Pipes and Drums Festivals
  • June 13, Havre De Grace, Maryland ~ Steppingstone Celtic Festival
  • June 13 to 14, Lehi, Utah ~ Utah Scottish Association Scottish Festival and Highland Games
  • June 13 to 14, Sarnia, Ontario, Canada ~ Sarnia Highland Games
  • June 14, Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada ~ Grande Prairie Highland Games
  • June 14 to 19, Pebble Beach, California ~ Monterey Bay School of Piping and Drumming
  • June 19, Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada ~ BD Legion Highland Gathering
  • June 19, East Souburg, The Netherlands ~ Stichtin Highland Games Zeeland
  • June 19, Lesmahagow, Scotland ~ Lesmahagow Highland Games
  • June 19, Jackson’s Point, Ontario, Canada ~ Georgina Highland Gathering
  • June 19, Midland, Michigan ~ Midland Highland Games
  • June 19, Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada ~ Manitoba Highland Gathering
  • June 19, Shrewsbury, Maryland ~ Irish Festival
  • June 19 to 20, Irvine, California ~ Great American Irish Fair and Music Festival
  • June 19 to 20, Watsonville, California ~ Scottish Renaissance Festival
  • Franklin, North Carolina ~ Taste of Scotland Festival
  • June 20, Langley, British Columbia, Canada ~ Legion Highland Gathering
  • June 20, Campbell, California ~ Campbell Highland Games and Celtic Gathering
  • June 20, Madison, Alabama ~ North Alabama Scottish Festival
  • June 20, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada ~ Red Deer Highland Games
  • June 20 to 21, Prosser, Washington ~ Prosser Scottish Fest & Highland Games
  • June 21, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada ~ Edmonton Scottish Society Highland Games
  • June 25 to 26, Billings, Montana ~ Yellowstone Highland Games
  • June 25 to 27, Kilmore, Victoria, Australia ~ Kilmore Celtic Festival
  • June 25 to 27, Manheim, Pennsylvania ~ Celtic Fling and Highland Games
  • June 26, Ceres, Scotland ~ Ceres Highland Games
  • June 26, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada ~ Cobourg Highland Games
  • June 26, Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada ~ United Scottish Highland Games
  • June 26, Drumtochty Glen, Scotland ~ Drumtochty Highland Games


    Laddies courtesy Drumtochty Highland Games

  • June 26, Eagle River, Alaska ~ Alaska Scottish Games
  • June 26, Graham, Washington ~ Tacoma-Pierce County Highland Games
  • June 26, Greenfield, Massachusetts ~ The Western Massachusetts Highland Games and Celtic Festival
  • June 26, Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba ~ Bands on the Boardwalk
  • June 26 to 27, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada ~ Hamilton Highland Games
  • June 26 to 27, Vista, California ~ San Diego Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans
  • June 26 to 28, Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada ~ Celtic Festival of Summerside
  • June 27, Graham, Washington ~ Tacoma Highland Games
  • June 27 to 28, Gillette, Wyoming ~ Wyoming Celtic Festival & Highland Games
  • June 27 to 28, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania ~ Pennsylvania Celtic Fling and Highland Games
  • June 27 to 28, Norton, Massachusetts ~ Winslowshire Festival for the Animals
  • June 27 to July 2, Termonfeckin, County Louth, Ireland ~ An Chuirt Chruitireachta - International Harp Festival
  • June 28 to July 5, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia ~ Sydney Scottish Week
  • June 30 to July 18, Inverness, Ontario, Canada ~ Ceilidh Trail School of Music Festival

For more detailed information about the listed events, go to

Coming tomorrow, Button Blings…


June 2, 2010 06:31 - Button Blings


Button Blings courtesy Little Brown Bird at Etsy

Following up on the Kanzashi and organdy flowers, this Etsy site offers small, intricate hair ornaments called Button Blings.

Little buttons, covered with elaborate fabric and jeweled touches, are attached to 2 ¼ inch silver hairpins. The pins come in sets of two.

One blue set is designed specifically for the bride. As every bride knows, she must wear something blue as quoted in the Lucky Sixpence folklore on the Bridal Wear Traditions page at Scottish Wedding Dreams.


Blue Button Bling courtesy Little Brown Bird at Etsy

Several co-ordinated or identical blings could be added to the bride’s hair, or her bridal party.

Each set in packaged in a small gift box, suitable for giving and for storing the hairpins.

They site also has organza and silk flowers, beaded jewelry, and clutch purses, all appropriate for the big day or gifts for the bridal party.

Little Brown Bird also offer silk flower combs.


Silk flower Comb courtesy Little Brown Bird at Etsy

Coming tomorrow, A Woodland Theme…

June 3, 2010 06:43 - A Woodland Theme ~ Part I

On May 31, 2010, the Newsroom featured Organza Flowers by Reese Dixon. One Christmas, she also created a Woodland theme Christmas tree. While looking at her designs, I realized they could easily be adapted for a Scottish wedding Woodland theme, which Ivy would have enjoyed.

Ivy is a pixie who lived in the Caledonian Forest of Scotland. She was featured in March and April of 2009.

The ornaments, which could be used as decorations, in bouquets, and for wedding favors include a mushroom, acorn, twigs, moss, feathers, quilled snowflakes, bird nest, leaves, pinecones.

A few tartans have been selected to complete the Woodland theme.

Velvet Leaves displayed as Christmas ornaments, could be added to pew bows or along table tops in any color velvet or faux suede you can find. They could be added into your floral bouquets or given as wedding favors.


Velvet Leaves courtesy Reese Dixon

The Acorn ornaments have polymer clay caps with felted acorns.


Felted Acorn courtesy Reese Dixon

Acorns would be quite appropriate for the Buchanan, Cameron, Hays, Kennedy, MacDowall, MacDuff, MacFie, Moncreiffe, Stewart, or Wallace clans, whose clan plant badge is the oak. In heraldry, the acorn symbolizes antiquity and strength.

On the same page, Reese created Moss Balls


Moss Balls courtesy Reese Dixon

The moss ornaments are small painted Styrofoam balls with strips of florist moss pinned on the surface.

Coming tomorrow, Part II of a Woodland Theme…

June 4, 2010 05:39 - A Woodland Theme ~ Part II

Continuing with the various decorative ornaments that could be used as a theme for a Scottish theme wedding ~

Twiggy Stars could become twig Celtic knots using the same bark covered floral wire.


Bark Covered Floral Wire

Wild Bird Nests fashioned from copper wire and beads or pearls continue the woodland theme.


Bird Nest courtesy Reese Dixon

A few years ago a friend returned from a wedding in Scotland. He brought back a wedding favor for me. It was an artificial bird nest with Robin egg blue Jordan almonds nestled inside.

Birds, and their nests, are one of the more popular heraldic symbols, signifying the peace and affection of home and family.

Reese has also created paperclay Mushrooms.


Mushrooms courtesy Reese Dixon

Feathered Ornaments add another element to the woodland theme.


Feathered Ornaments courtesy Reese Dixon

Again in heraldry, feathers symbolize willing obedience and serenity.

Ribbon Pinecones are an old idea, but fitting for a Woodland theme.


Ribbon Pinecones courtesy Reese Dixon

You could collect brown silk, or silken, ties from second-hand stores [Goodwill, Salvation Army, and local thrift shops], using the small patterns to form the pinecone scales. The book about Kanzashi flowers mentioned on May 28, 2010, describes using recycled ties for petals and backgrounds.

Pinecones are the clan plants for the Ferguson, Grant, MacAlpine, MacAulay, MacFie, MacGregor, MacKinnon, MacNab, and MacQuarie clans. In heraldry, the pinecones denotes life.

Monday, the Woodland theme continues…

June 7, 2010 06:41 - A Woodland Theme ~ Part III

Continuing the Woodland theme…

On another page by Reese, there is a Laurel Headband made of felt leaves in woodland colors.


Laurel Headband courtesy Reese Dixon

A Quilled Snowflake constructed with rolled paper is another idea.


Quilled Snowflake courtesy Reese Dixon

Within a Woodland theme, brown and green tartans can complete this theme. Some possibilities are ~

Anderson Clan Tartan WR1182


Anderson Clan Tartan WR1182

Moncrieffe Athol Family Tartan WR2517


Moncrieffe Athol Family Tartan WR2517

Mounth Corporate Tartan WR382


Mounth Corporate Tartan WR382

Knox Tartan WR2516


Knox Clan Tartan WR2516

County Monoghan Tartan WR2516


County Monoghan Irish Tartan WR2267

County Down Tartan WR2266


County Down Irish Tartan WR2266

Tomorrow, Celtic Knotwork styles and meanings…

June 8, 2010 06:42 - Celtic Knotwork Styles and Meanings

Long before I ever started this information sight, I had someone ask me for the meanings of various Celtic knots. I looked around at the time and couldn’t find any, beyond the The Trinity Knot, which is the simplest of Celtic knots. It symbolizes the triune Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Recently I stumbled across more information at Aon Celtic. They have described and illustrated various categories of knots. The information may have been there all along, but I hadn’t seen it before. So here’s some Celtic Knotwork styles ~

Hallstatt ~ geometric, maze type designs that are repetitious that date back to the Bronze Age.


Maze Celtic Knot courtesy Karens Whimsy

La Tene ~ spirals and leaves, sometimes with face and animal shapes that appear and disappear when viewed from different angles.

Interlace ~ braided strips that bend and weave amongst themselves. Two common knots are the Trinity knot, discussed above, and the Lover’s Knot which looks like an intertwined infinity motif.


Trinity Celtic knot courtesy Wikipedia

Spirals ~ occurring in double, triple, and quadruple swirls. Thought to represent the cosmos, heavens, and waves of water. The Triskel, representing the Holy Trinity, is one example. The triskelion or triskele is three interlocked spirals, or three bent human legs, protruding with rotational symmertry


Spiral Celtic knot courtesy Aon Celtic

Zoomorphic ~ animal representations that are twisted back upon themselves. Each animal is associated with a human trait, some we know what they are.

  • Bird
    Peacock ~ purity


    Gilded Peacock Celtic knot courtesy Aon Celtic


    Peacock Celtic knot courtesy Dover Publications

    Eagle ~ nobility

  • Boar ~ ferocity, strength
  • Bull ~ strength
  • Deer


    Deer Celtic knot courtesy Dover Publications

  • Hart


    Hart Celtic Knot courtesy Aon Celtic

  • Hound ~ loyalty


    Hound Celtic Knot courtesy Aon Celtic

  • Lion ~ nobility, strength


    Lion Celtic knot courtesy Aon Celtic

  • Salmon ~ knowledge

  • Seahorse


    Seahorse Celtic knot courtesy ABC Embroidery

  • Snake ~ rebirth
    Though interpreted the same as snakes, dragons are from later periods

Maze and Step ~ also called Key Patterns as seen in Egyptian art, which represents an individual's journey through the labyrinth of life


Maze and Step courtesy Artlandia

People ~ representing both men and women with their hair and limbs sometimes forming the knots.


St Luke from the Gospels of MacDurnan courtesy Karens Whimsy

Some of the known meanings overlap with heraldic symbols and their meanings.

Aon Celtic has more complete information.

Stephen Walker of Walker Metalsmiths also has an article about the meanings of Celtic Knots. He designs Celtic jewelry, including beautiful wedding rings incorporating Celtic knots.

Tomorrow, read about a Celtic wind chime…

June 9, 2010 06:28 - Celtic Knot Wind Chimes

Following up on yesterday’s Celtic knots, a simple wind chime with a Celtic knot motif could be used as a decoration. A large one hung unobtrusively could add a musical note to your reception. Smaller ones could be hung over various tables, or given as wedding favors.

A OK Corral craft site has a wind chime how-to project.

It features a butterfly, but could be adapted to a Celtic knot.

Aon Celtic has an online Celtic knot designer.

The Celtic Knot Font has design software you can purchase to design knots using your keyboard and an ornamental font. As there’s so much information on the website, here’s the link for their Order Page.

Once you’ve designed your Celtic knot and printed the pattern, you simply follow the layout to form your knot with wire and beads. Using a larger size bead wherever there is a cross-over would add some visual interest. As you’re doing a knot, I’d suggest using only one color of beads.

The lengths of wire needed would also be longer. Just cut your first piece much too long, so you don’t run out of wire before the knot is formed.

To create a large wind chime, increase the size of all components proportionally. Use heavier, longer tubing, plus heavier fishing line. The beads could be a larger size, or you’ll simply use more beads.

Copper or brass tubing and wire would be more decorative than the aluminum wire used in the sample. The heavier gauge the pipe, the more resonance and deeper tones you will create.

With some thought, you could have a unique Scottish motif to add to your celebration.

Coming tomorrow, Celtic design clogs…

June 10, 2010 06:31 - Clogging Shoes

I’m always on the look out for comfortable, unique footwear for the bride and anyone else connected with the wedding. So when I saw these green clogs with a Celtic knot on the toe, I had to dig into the site.


Celtic Knot Clogs courtesy NW Clogs

The artist is Phil Howard, who is located in Stockport, Manchester, England. He offers many styles with a choice of soles, shapes, and leathers. He also creates custom clogs.

The design created by cutting grooves in the leather surface is called a crimp.

When I found the Green Man crimp, I was enthralled after featuring the Green Man, Jack-in-the-Green, series on May 10 to May 18, 2010.


Green Man clogs courtesy NW Clogs

On any style, the soles are usually sycamore, but beech soles are also available. And resin, or rubber, soles can also be ordered in black or a neutral tan.

The common shape for the toe is rounded, but a "duck" toe, which is pinched and slightly extended can also be ordered.

The leather is either vegetable tanned, which uses a slightly heavier leather that is stiff at first, but becomes more flexible and softer with wearing. This leather can be dyed-to-order in a choice of colors and is best for the embossed designs and crimps.

The other choice is ready dyed chrome tanning which produces a lighter weight and initial softer feel. This leather can’t be embossed and is restricted to black, blue, red, or burgundy.

The waiting time is usually 6 to 8 weeks. Basic prices range from $49 to $98. Extras such as embossing, dying soles, and custom work add to the cost.

Both stamped and embossed Celtic designs are also available. This green clog features an embossed shamrock design and a stamped Celtic knot.


Embossed and stamped clog courtesy NW Clogs

View Phil’s website to see more style selections.

In case you’re wondering, they are also available in men’s sizes. With a good design and color selection, they would be appropriate, particularly with a kilt. If they seem a little too decorative for men, just take a good look at some high-quality wing-tips ~ they’re just as decorative.

Coming tomorrow, Clan Fragrances…

June 11, 2010 07:42 - Clan Fragrances ~ The Perfume of the Highlands

I’ve received a sample from a new fragrance line developed in the Highlands of Scotland. Clan plants with oils, such as Highland Myrtle, Heather, Red Whortleberry, and Juniper, are the basis for this fragrance.

Clan plants have played an important role in the Highlands for centuries. More information on clan plants is available at Scottish Wedding Dreams.

This wonderful line of fragrances is created by Scotland’s only perfumier. The aromas associated with the Single Malt Whiskies of Scotland have long been appreciated. These aromas have been also been used in some of the world’s finest perfumes.

To use these local essential oils from the plants of Scotland in a fragrance specifically designated as the fragrance of Scotland is a long overdue, logical step in the fragrance industry.


Clan Fragrance line courtesy Clan Fragrance

Currently, Clan Fragrance, Clan Soap, Ladies Clan Fragrance, and Gentleman’s Clan Cologne are available. Soon to be released is a 5 ml bottle, packaged in a decorative bag, for wedding favors.

More information is available at Scottish Perfumes.

Monday, read about snow globe wedding favors…

June 14, 2010 06:06 - Simple Snow Globes

Small, individual snow globes are always fun. To give them as wedding favors will offer entertainment at the reception. And after your guests take theirs home, they will serve as a reminder of your wedding and a proud display of your Scottishness.

Today you’ll find a list of items needed to complete the snow globes. Tomorrow, the directions for completing the snow globes will be published.

Items Needed

  • Jars which can be ordered in quantity from various online sources in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some include lids, others sell the lids separately ~
    Freund Container
    Specialty Bottle
    SKS Bottles
    SKS also has a Wedding Favor Containers and Ideas section
    McKernan Packaging

  • Figurines such as a miniature bride and groom, wedding bells, a clan plant, the thistle, the good omens at Wedding Day Customs, or white heather to add to your Scottish theme.

  • Small wooden discs which can be purchased at most craft stores

  • Tarnish resistant glitter ~ white or pearlescent for snow, blue for rain, or coordinated with your color theme

  • Epoxy

  • Coarse Sandpaper

  • Metal Primer

  • Oil-Based Enamel

  • Distilled Water

  • Glycerin ~ available in gallon containers at drug stores in the pharmacy or cosmetic area, feed stores, baking suppliers, Michael’s, art supplies, or online at Buy Chemicals Direct.

Tomorrow, constructing your snow globes…

June 15, 2010 06:12 - Snow Globes ~ Part II

Constructing Your Snow Globe
  • Any jar with a screw-on lid ~ special order, baby food jars, olive jars, or jelly jars. If the lids have printing on them or to change the color, prime with metal primer and paint with oil-base enamel paint. Another alternative is to glue ribbon (tartan) around the lid rim.
  • Select and place figurines, flower, whatever you’re placing inside. If the figurines need to be raised to be clearly seen, use small wooden discs which can be purchased at most craft stores.

    If the discs will show, paint them the same color as the inside of the lid. Leave the side to be glued to the lid unpainted and simply roughen with sandpaper so the epoxy adheres.

  • Sand inside the lid with coarse sandpaper to roughen the surface, so epoxy will adhere to the lid.
  • Using epoxy, if you’re using a wooden disc to raise the figurine, first glue the disc, then the figurine in place and dry according to the instructions.
  • Fill the jar almost to the top with distilled water.
  • Add a pinch of the non-tarnish glitter. Usually white, pearl, or silver glitter is used.

    One idea is to develop the rain and rainbow as good omens as seen at Wedding Day Customs. Blue glitter can simulate a skarrach, or swiftly passing rain shower.

  • Add a capful of glycerin. This slows the descent of the glitter when shaking the jar. Too much glycerin or glitter will simply lie on the bottom when the jar is turned over.
  • Slowly pour in a bit more distilled water to almost overflowing.
  • Carefully screw on lid until tightly closed. Some of the jar companies recommend heating the lid so the inside plastic seal actually seals.
  • Attach any outside decorative touches ~ tartan ribbon, labels, stickers, ink stamps.

Just have fun, take your time, and create a unique Scottish themed snow globe.

Tomorrow, the Saltcoats tartan…

June 16, 2010 06:36 - Saltcoats Tartan

On Scotland’s west coast, in North Ayrshire, lies three adjacent towns, Androssan, Saltcoats, and Stevenston. They lie close by the Isle of Arran. An early industry was harvesting salt from the sea water, thus the name of Saltcoats, which achieved burgh status in 1528, under the First Earl of Eglinton.

The Saltcoat Crest features the past industries of the village, including

  • a ship for shipbuilding
  • a ruined sot cot for the salt mining
  • a fish for the fishing industry
  • three amulets from the coat of arms belonging to the Earls of Eglinton and Winton.

The mural coronet above signifies burgh status, while the escrol below features the motto per mare per terras, meaning By Land and By Sea.


Saltcoats Crest courtesy Visit Saltcoats

This coin was issued in 1797 by the burgh of Saltcoats.


Saltcoats 1797 Coin courtesy The Saltcoats

The salt was extracted in small houses along the beach. These houses were called cots, or sot-cots. From there I suspect the name evolved into Saltcoats.

Other early industries included coal mining, fishing, and handloom weaving, all of which are included in their tartan.

When the salt industry declined and salt panning was no longer a viable source of income, Saltcoats became a holiday destination.

In the 1930’s an old bathing pond was rebuilt, becoming the largest tidal pool in Scotland.

Photos of the bathing pond in the 1930’s and again in the 1950’s, plus other historical postcards can be viewed at The Saltcoats home page.

You can learn more at Visit Saltcoats about page. There’s history, notable people, and more.

Today, the beautiful sandy beaches still draw tourists for holidays and day trips.

Saltcoats has it’s own tartan, WR2819, not to be mistaken with Saltcoats, Saskatchewan WR3157.


Saltcoats District Tartan WR2819


Saltcoats Saskatchewan 3157

The history of Saltcoats was designed into their tartan, with the blue of the sea, the beige of the sand, the black of the coal, the white of the salt, the red of the setting sun, and purple for Scotland.

The town has an annual Queen of the Sea Festival and the Saltcoats tartan was first worn by the then reigning queen.
Saltcoats Tartan is featured in a gift line from Baxter Jewelers.

The range includes stuffed animals and wedding attire accessories

  • Teddy bears
  • Plush Scotty Dog
  • Cufflinks
  • Garter
  • Suspenders
  • Tams
  • Ties

Tomorrow, Skye’s Talisker Distillery…

June 17, 2010 06:54 - Skye’s Talisker Distillery

Lying beside Loch Harport along the west coast of Skye, in the village of Carbost, Talisker is the only distillery on the Isle of Skye. It produces a single malt whisky, which is classified as a Highland whiskey.


Talisker Whiskey
courtesy Talisker Distillery

The distillery also produces three other blended whiskies, Mac na Mara, meaning "son of the sea", Tè Bheag nan Eilean, meaning "wee dram of the isles", and Poit Dhubh meaning "black pot".

The blender is Pràban na Linne, meaning a smuggler’s den by the Sound of Sleat, which is based at Eilean Iarmainm, or Isle Ornsay, a village overlooking the island of Ornsay .


The Village of Isle Ornsay courtesy Wikipedia

But what is a single malt whiskey?

Using only barley, water and yeast, single designates the whiskey is from a single distillery, while malt tells us it’s from a malted grain.

The copious amounts of water used in the distillation process requires an abundant water source close by. Talisker sits below Cnoc nan Speireag,
meaning Hawk Hill. The waters flow over peat, adding to the peat flavor of Highland whiskeys.

The distillation process includes malting the barley for germination. Most of the distilleries still have a distinct "pagado" chimney on the roof, which once vented the malting floor. Today most of the malting process is done off-premise by specialized maltsters.

The evidence of the malting process are the kiln towers. At many distilleries, where is process is performed off-premise, the tower is merely decorative, hearkening back to an earlier time.


Talisker Whiskey Kiln courtesy Wikipedia

The next steps are mashing, fermentation, distillation, maturation, and bottling.

Whiskey is almost synonymous with Scotland, with the earliest written record of whiskey from malted barley being the 1494 Exchequer Rolls, where "Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor, by order of the King, wherewith to make aqua vitae."

Founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, they leased Talisker House in 1831, with the waters coming from a spring directly above the distillery.


Talisker Distillery courtesy Wikipedia

The spicy character of Talisker, also described as firey or salty, comes from the spring water, plus the malted barley, distilling barrels and aging process, producing a premium whiskey.

If you’re considering ordering Talisker for your wedding toast, personalized gift labels can also be ordered by going to the Friend‘s Corner.

If your ceremony will include sharing of the Quaich, there are many quaichs available from most Scottish suppliers, from simple to ornate, inexpensive to fine art, any of which can become a prized family heirloom, passed down through the generations. The traditional drink served in the quaich is whiskey.

Can’t find Talisker at your local liquor store? Talisker can be ordered online from Mission Liquor in Pasadena, California. They offer 10 year, 12 year, 18 year, 25 year, 1996, 1998, and 175th Anniversary Limited Edition.


Talisker 12 Year courtesy Mission Liquor


Talisker 25 Year courtesy Mission Liquor

Some interesting trivia about Talisker

  • In the movie, Charlie Wilson’s War, the Chief for the C.I.A. gives Charlie Wilson a bottle of Talisker as a gift.
  • Talisker is a component in both Drambuie liqueur and Johnnie Walker whiskey, with its presence most notable in Walker’s Green Label 15 Year Old Vatted Malt.
  • Talisker was the favorite whiskey of Robert Louis Stevenson. He included it in the poem The Scotsman’s Return From Abroad

    The king o' drinks, as I conceive it,
    Talisker, Isla, or Glenlivet.

So, grab some Talisker, another whiskey, a beer, or fresh spring water and raise a toast to the Isle of Skye, famous and infamous, but a name that carrying a hint of mystery down through the ages and one of God’s beautiful places!

Tomorrow features the Isle of Skye Soap Company…

June 18, 2010 06:46 - Isle of Skye Brewery

For those with a simpler palate, who just want to have a good, quality ale to serve their guests, consider these Scottish beers from the Isle of Skye.

The selections include ~

  • Black Cuillian ~ a dark ale with roasted oatmeal and honey. Named for the mountains on the Isle of Skye.


    Black Cuillin courtesy Scottish Partnership

  • Blaven ~ a strong golden ale with a fruity hops character and delightful aroma.


    Blaven courtesy Scottish Partnership

  • Hebridean Gold ~ distinctively different, brewed with porridge oats, smooth with a creamy head.


    Hebridean Gold courtesy Scottish Partnership

  • Red Cuillin ~ slightly nutty. Named after the famous hills on the Isle of Skye.


    Red Cuillin courtesy Scottish Partnership

  • Young Pretender ~ golden ale, driest of the Skye beers. Named, of course, for Bonnie Prince Charlie who fled Scotland after the Battle of Culloden via the Isle of Skye.


    Young Pretender courtesy Scottish Partnership

    Begun in 1995 by Angus and Pam MacRuary and others, the Isle of Skye Brewery was the first to be established on Skye or in the Western Isles. Located in Ulg, both Angus and Pam were educators, but they soon had a full time business on their hands. At the time, Pam was Scotland’s only female brewer.


    Isle of Skye Brewery courtesy Isle of Skye Brewery

Beyond their regular ales, the brewery also has a selection of seasonal ales.

  • Cuillin Beast ~ their strongest ale which is fruity and sweet with a taste of caramel, known in the U.S. as "Wee Beast".


    Cuillin Beast courtesy Isle of Skye Brewery

  • Lord of the Ales ~ Originally names "Two Rings" to celebrate the MacRuary wedding, a light golden ale with a slight bitter aftertaste [hopefully not indicative of their marriage]


    Lord of the Ales courtesy Isle of Skye Brewery

  • Oyster Stout ~ historically brewed as an accompaniment to oysters when the Oyster Season opened in September, a smooth, creamy stout with a hint of chocolate and a soft bittersweet aftertaste.


    Oyster Stout courtesy Historic Isle of Skye Brewery

  • Skyelight ~ light and refreshing to quench summer thirsts, with a lingering light hop aftertaste.


    Skye Light courtesy Isle of Skye Brewery

  • Skye`s Grand ~ commemorating the 1,000the Skye brewed in 2005, a full-bodied ale with a fruity aftertaste.


    Skye’s Grand courtesy Isle of Skye Brewery

    The brewery hopes to one day produce the barley and hops for their beers. Tests are underway in Kilmuir, once known as the "granary of Skye". These tests are reintroducing barley to Skye, where it hasn’t been grown in over 50 years.

    They’ve also installed a malt mill so they can grind whole grain on site at the brewery.

    Isle of Skye regular ales can be ordered for shipment through Scottish Partnership.

    For the seasonal ales, you’ll have to do some searching and keep your eyes open at the store.

    Coming Monday, Ciuin Stones from the Isle of Skye...

  • June 21, 2010 06:33 - Skye Ciuin Stones

    The Isle of Skye is renowned for Flora MacDonald aiding Bonnie Prince Charlie after his defeat at Culloden ~ the flight is remembered in song, "The Skye Boat Song", and in legend.

    But there is much more to the Isle of Skye ~ it’s beauty and it’s ability to move forward in a new century, while maintaining the charm and appeal from a prior time.

    In times past, when the islanders would leave, crossing to the mainland of Scotland, usually to drove cattle south or following their clan chief into battle, they would carry a small stone as a talisman for luck.

    If they never returned home, they knew they would die holding a small piece of "home". And, while the still lived, they carried a small reminder of home and it’s beauty.

    These stones came to be called Ciuin stones. They are Skye Marble, which is a genuine marble with contains other minerals, creating a variety of appearances.


    Skye Marble courtesy Isle of Skye Minerals

    Different sources list different areas of Skye as the source of Skye marble, including the southern end of the island, in a small area at the foot of the Black Cuillin mountains, the village of Torren along the east coast, and the village of Kilbride or Cille Bhrighde.

    The Skye marble area is primarily Durness limestone. Most of the island is volcanic and metamorphic rocks, as can be seen on the Trotternish Peninsula at Kilt Rock. Also well known, the columns of dolerite looks like the pleats in a kilt.


    Kilt Rock courtesy Travels in Scotland

    The word Ciuin means calm, peaceful, mild, smooth, or placid. Thus the Ciuin stones have become synonymous with these traits and is carried by non-islanders desiring these emotions in their lives.

    They would also be perfect for an Oathing Stone for a Scottish Wedding Ceremony Tradition.

    Scottish Partnership offers small bags of small stones and polished pendants.


    Ciuin Stones courtesy Scottish Partnership


    Ciuin Stone Pendants courtesy Scottish Partnership

    Mysterious Scotland also features Lucky Ciuin Stones and a line of finished jewelry pieces featuring the stones in a wide variety of colors.


    Lucky Ciuin Stones courtesy Mysterious Scotland


    Ciuin Stone Pendant courtesy Mysterious Scotland


    Ciuin Stone Pendant courtesy Mysterious Scotland

    The stones could be given as wedding favors, with a small note of explanation attached. The stone would have added meaning if you were to use one as an Oathing Stone. Again, this is something each guest would value and treasure as a momento of your wedding and as a token of Scotland.

    Both companies have a broad selection, any of which would make nice gifts for the bridal party or others you need to thank.

    Coming tomorrow, Isle of Skye Soaps...

    June 22, 2010 10:17 - Isle of Skye Soap Company

    Another small business on Skye is a line of personal hygiene products that are invigorating, refreshing, relaxing, natural, and soothing made by Isle of Skye Soap Company.


    Company Logo courtesy Isle of Skye Soap Company

    Using pure essential oils and handcrafted in Portree, their products are not only better for your skin, but their packaging is simple and recyclable. No colorings are added, so the only colors are what nature provides.

    Aromatherapy Soaps

    • Original Skye Range is as clear as the water used to manufacture the soap.


      Skye Range Seaweed-Cedarwood courtesy Isle of Skye Soap Company

    • Cuillin Range exhibiting the natural colors of the Cuillins.


      Cuillin Range Heather-Myrtle courtesy Isle of Skye Soap Company

    • Storr Range is 4 chunks of soap on a sisal rope for the shower ~ also adds wonderful Scottish fragrances to your bathroom.


      Storr Range courtesy Isle of Skye Soap Company

    • Malt Whisky Soap.


      Malt Whisky Soap courtesy Isle of Skye Soap Company

    Oils to compliment the soap range are available as essential oils and bath oils, and bath bombs. The oils are distilled from organic plants, shrubs, flowers, trees, and seeds.


    Essential Oils courtesy Isle of Skye Soap Company

    The essential oils available are

    • Cedar wood
    • Geranium
    • Ginger
    • Grapefruit
    • Lavender
    • Lemongrass
    • Lime
    • Myrtle ~ ingredient in Angel’s Water
    • Rosemary
    • Patchoili
    • Peppermint
    • Sweet orange
    • Tea tree
    • Ylang ylang

    Each fragrance is detailed on the Isle of Skye Soap pages, with the scientific name, a description, others the fragrance can be blended with, the ailments it might alleviate, therapeutic character, warnings, and historic information when applicable.

    Creams and Lotions include their best selling hand creams in geranium and lavender, plus cocoa butter sticks.

    Aromatherapy Bath Soak helps stress fade away.

    Bath Bombs are 4 inches of pure essential oils, available in 9 fragrances.


    Bath Bombs courtesy Isle of Skye Soap Company

    Wheat and Lavender Wraps are an ideal solution for aches and pains.

    Dried Herbs and Flowers, as used in their Scrubby Soap.

    Various Sundries ~ calico bags, lavender sachets, midge repellant and air fragrancer.


    Calico Gift Bags courtesy Isle of Skye Soap Company

    Gift Boxes ~ luxury in a variety of sizes and contents, presented in naturally bleached wood, like the driftwood along the shores.


    Luxury Wooden Gift Box courtesy Scottish Partnership

    They have a broad selection, any of which would make nice gifts for the bridal party or others you need to thank.

    You can view their complete line at Isle of Skye Soap Company.

    Coming tomorrow, Angel’s Water...

    June 23, 2010 08:44 - Angel’s Water

    Through Skye Soap company and it’s information about Myrtle essential oil, I stumbled into angelica and Angel’s water, a decoction used in the Middle Ages as a protection against the Plague. Having already used Thieves Oil, which was also claimed to be a protection against the plague, I was curious about Angel’s water.

    Herbal concoctions were popularized in the 12th century. Many different essential oils are said to have been used in Thieves Oil, including cinnamon, lemon, clove, rosemary, oregano, wormwood, meadowsweet, juniper berries, camphor, sage, and a base of white wine vinegar.

    More interesting than the contents is the use of Thieves Oil. Legend tells that 4 perfumers and spice traders who blended their own "proprietary" concoction, rubbed themselves with it, and proceeded to rob corpses and the dying during the 15th century plague. When caught and arrested, they divulged their secret in exchange for their lives.

    Angel water has a similar legend, where an angel appeared in a dream, revealing to a monk that the plant would cure the plague. Thus the name angelica.

    There are two types of angelica - the wild Angelica sylvaticum and the garden Archangelica officinalis varieties.


    Wild Angelica courtesy Wikipedia

    Angelica was considered to be one of the most powerful herbs, earning the name Root of the Holy Ghost. One story tells that on the old Julian calendar, May 8th is the feast day of Michael the Archangel and angelica is in bloom in early May. So Angelica was thought to be under his protection.

    Another legend tells of angelica healing anything, including evil spirits, witchcraft, spells, and the plague.

    In a 1510 plague in Milan, angelica was touted as a "marvelous medicine. In 1602, angelica was used to stop the plague in Niort, France, which is now the center of angelica production in France.

    In Spain, a Medieval cosmetic, called Angel Water, was a blend of angelica, roses, trefoil, and lavender.

    Gerard, the famed herbalist of the 16th century, recommended angelica for relief of flatulence. His recipe recommends sipping before each meal.

    1 oz. dried Angelica herb
    1 oz. Holy Thistle
    1/2 oz. hops

    Infuse these in 3 pints of boiling water
    Strained off when cold

    Serve in a cordial or wineglass

    Angelica continued to be used treating the plague through the reign of Charles Stuart, King of England, Scotland, and France in the 17th century.

    When being mixed for the Plague, or typhus fever, the garden variety was used.


    Garden Angelica courtesy Wikipedia

    Tomorrow, more information about Angelica…

    June 24, 2010 08:42 - Angelica ~ Part II

    Beyond the Plague, there have been, and are, varied recipes and uses for angelica.

    The Danes were among the first to produce and market candied Angelica, which was popularized by the early 17th century in England.

    Angelica is native to the colder climates of northern Russia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Greenland, Faroe Islands, and Iceland. It’s known that on Iceland, the people relied on Angelica for various reasons, including eating it when other food was not available.

    Written records show angelica in cultivation in the 10th century, for use as a vegetable. Even today, the Sami culture in Scandinavia still rely on angelica. They add it to reindeer milk as a flavoring agent. And they make a flute-like musical instrument from the hollow stem, which their children play as a toy.

    In Lapland, poets were presented with garlands of Angelica in hope that it’s perfume would be inspirational. Norwegians continue to use the herb in bread. Being connoisseurs of fine foods and liqueurs, the French have developed a number of uses, the best known being Chartreuse. Others are Benedictine, Vermouth, Dubonnet, and Absinthe. The Muscatel grape-like flavor of some Rhine wines is secretly attributed to the addition of Angelica.

    The French also use angelica with omelets, trout, and angelica jam. In Lapland the fresh herb is added when fish is boiled.

    In the garden, cutting the hollow stems of angelica and placing them among shrubs can be used as traps for earwigs.

    Angelica has also been used in perfumery.

    The Danes were among the first to produce and market candied Angelica, which was popularized by the early 17th century in England.

    Before you try to buy angelica seeds, please note that true angelica seeds are rarely available from spice dealers, while Persian Golpar, or Heracleum persicum, is often erroneously labeled angelica seed.

    One quick recipe ~

    Thinly slice 6 oz of angelica root
    Pour 1 quart of boiling water over the root
    Infuse for 30 minutes
    Strain

    Add ~
    Juice of 2 lemons
    4 oz honey
    ½ gill of brandy [2 ounces]

    I found a recipe labeled Angelica Pie, but it’s really a simple one-layer cake.


    Angelica Pie courtesy FX Cuisine

    Angelica leaf stalks are also added to rhubarb, sweetening the pot. Tough, old stalks are cut into long lengths and added to stewed rhubarb or rhubarb jam, being removed before serving.

    Young, tender angelica stalks can be stewed like rhubarb or spinach, though they are too bitter for most tastes. Older leaf mid-ribs can be blanched, then cooked like celery.

    In Iceland they eat the stems and roots raw with butter as a delicacy. The Finns eat the young stems baked in hot ashes or in a decoction similar to Green Tea.

    Tomorrow, more about Angelica, bitters, and digestifs…


    June 25, 2010 08:00 - Angelica ~ Part III Bitters & Digestifs

    Angelica was also made into a bitters or digestif. I was recently introduced to bitters. While eating lunch in a bar on St. Croix, a local walked into a bar, ordering water. A shaker bottle of Angostura Bitters was sitting on the bar. He shook a goodly portion into his glass of water, chugged it down, paid some sum of money and went on his way. Having become a friend of the bar owner, we asked her what that was all about. She explained this was a common hangover remedy or digestive aid.


    Angostura Bitters courtesy Wikipedia

    Other bitters are alcoholic, flavored with herbal essences, with a bitter or bittersweet flavor. Once sold as patent medicines, they are now sold as digestifs and additional flavors for cocktails.

    Bitters implies no sugar or sweetener has been added. But if it is a tonic, some sugar may have been added.

    The Angostura bitters are not classified as an alcoholic beverage, are sold in the grocery story, and can be bought by minors. Out of curiosity, we bought a bottle to try.

    The label made for interesting reading. Originally decocted in Venezuela, they are now manufactured by the House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago. We left St. Croix before I had many opportunities to try the bitters. So I can’t really offer any opinion.

    But I have found a recipe for Hops Bitters, which includes angelica.

    Hops Bitters

    1 oz. dried Angelica herb
    1 oz. Holy Thistle
    1/2 oz. hops

    Infuse these in 3 pints of boiling water
    Strained off when cold

    Serve in a cordial or wineglass, several times a day before meals, as an appetizer.

    Another digestif liqueur which preserves the virtues of angelica

    Angelica Liqueur

    1 oz. freshly gathered Angelica stems, chopped
    1 oz. skinned bitter almonds, reduced to a pulp
    2 pts. good brandy
    1 pt. liquid sugar

    Combine angelica, almonds, and brandy
    Steep for 5 days
    Strain the liquid through fine muslin
    Mix in liquid sugar
    Decant

    Coming Monday, preserving Angelica…


    June 28, 2010 09:43 - Angelica ~ Part IV

    Old recipes for preserving angelica ~

    Cut angelica into 4 inch pieces
    Steep for 12 hours in salt and water
    Put a layer of cabbage or cauliflower leaves in a clean brass pan
    Add a layer of Angelica, alternating these two to the top, finishing with a layer of leaves
    Cover with water and vinegar
    Boil slowly until the Angelica becomes quite green
    Strain and weigh the stems
    Add 1 pound loaf sugar to each pound of stems
    Put the sugar in a clean pan and cover with water
    Boil 10 minutes, then pour this syrup over the Angelica
    Let stand for 12 hours
    Pour off the syrup, boil it for 5 minutes and pour it again over the Angelica
    Repeat the process
    After the Angelica has stood in the syrup 12 hours, put all in the brass pan and boil till tender
    Remove the pieces of Angelica and place them in a jar
    Pour the syrup over them or dry them on a sieve and sprinkle them with sugar. They will then form candy.

    Cut the tubes or stalks of Angelica into six inch lengths; wash them, then put them into a copper preserving-pan with hot syrup; cover the surface with vine-leaves, and set the whole to stand in the larder till next day. The Angelica must then be drained on a sieve, the vine-leaves thrown away, half a pint of water added to the syrup, in which, after it has been boiled, skimmed, and strained into another pan, and the copper-pan has been scoured clean, both the Angelica and the boiling syrup are to be replaced and the surface covered with fresh vine-leaves, and again left to stand in this state till the next day- this process must be repeated 3 or 4 days running: at the end of which time the Angelica will be sufficiently green and done through, and should be put in jars without breaking the tubes. After the syrup has been boiled and skimmed, fill up the jars, and when they are become cold, cover them over with bladder and paper, and let them be kept in a very cool temperature.
    from Francatelli's Cook's Guide

    Cut young stems into suitable lengths
    Boil until tender
    Remove from water, cool, strip off outer skins
    Return to water, simmer slowly until the mass is very green
    Dry the stems
    Weight the dried stems
    Measure one pound of white sugar for every pound of angelica
    Laid out the stalks in an earthenware pan
    Sprinkle sugar over the stalks
    Let this stand for 2 days
    In a pot, bring stalks and sugar to a boil
    Remove from heat, pour into a colander
    Drain syrup, add a little more sugar and bring syrup to a boil again
    Add the angelica, steep for a few minutes
    Spread on trays or plates to dry in a cool oven
    Decant

    Coming Tuesday, other herbs as Renaissance Cordials, including Royal Usquebaugh…

    June 29, 2010 08:41 - Cordial Waters, An Elegant Touch


    Royal Usquebaugh courtesy Historic Food

    Golden cordials have been popular since Renaissance times. Not only were the colors a bright, sunny yellow, the drinks also had gold leaf flecks suspended throughout the alcohol.

    Rosa solis, one of the most enduring, was derived from Sundew, or Drosera rotundfolia L., a carnivorous plant found in bogs.


    Sundew courtesy Wikipedia

    Also called rosolio, the cordial was originally used in France as a medicine and aphrodisiac before it became a popular drink.

    In the late 1400’s distilled cordial waters arrived in England, strictly used as medicine, prescribed in small doses. The cordial invigorated the heart and revitalized the spirit.

    By 1700, the cordials were also being used as recreational drinks for their intoxicating effects. When gold or pearls were added to these cordials, people believed they would renew the spirit and free the body of diseases.

    Rosa solis continued to be used as an aphrodisiac. It also contained hot, provocative spices such as "cubebs, grains of paradise and galingale". One 17th century author claimed this "sundew" stirred up lust.

    During the banquet course of dining, rosa solis was served with kissing comfits and snow ernygoes as aphrodisiacs. Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, Act V, Scene V, speaks of kissing comfits and snow eryngoes. Kissing comfits are sugar plums perfumed to sweeten the breath. Snow ernygoes are the candied roots of sea holly.

    Today, some rosa solis is still produced in Italy and Spain, but it no longer contains sundew.

    Besides Rosolio, other popular cordials are Royal Usquebaugh, Escubac d’Angleterre, which is Royal Usquebaugh without the gold leaf flecks, and Vespitro, flavored with anise, angelica, and lemon.

    Tomorrow, Royal Usquebaugh...

    June 30, 2010 10:02 - Cordial Waters ~ Part II, Royal Usquebaugh

    In England, cordials remained popular into the 19th century. As they were believed to settle the stomach, they were classified as surfeit waters. Royal Usquebaugh, a spicy liqueur with flecks of gold leaf, was classified as a surfeit water.

    Royal Usquebaugh is not to be confused with Scotch Whisky, which in Gaelic is Usquebaugh, meaning the water of life.

    These cordials and surfeits were also called sweet drams. Though originating in Continental Europe, those developed in the British Isles also worked their way back to the Continent.

    Modern Royal Usquebaugh is flavored with aniseed, licorice and saffron, then sweetened with fruit sugar extracted from figs and raisins.

    The cordials were even featured on trading cards, as seen in this sample. This was for Green and Yellow Usquebaugh. The word Right signified it was authentic.


    Usquebaugh Trading Card courtesy Historic Food

    Historic Food has more information about these and other beverages, including historic recipes.

    The Food Network has a simplified, modern recipe for Usquebaugh Royal.

    If alcohol is being served at your reception, this could be a nice Scottish touch for the bride and groom’s traditional toast, or for all, if your budget can afford this splurge.

    This photo demonstrates a proper glass and the correct way to hold the glass, gripped by the foot, in the 17th and 18th centuries.


    Royal Usquebaugh courtesy Historic Foods

    Tomorrow, July Highland Games and Festivals, then on to Surfeit Waters on Friday…


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