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Issue 80 - Friendly Spirits

Scotland Magazine Issue 80
April 2015


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Friendly Spirits

Roddy Martine enjoys a Speyside dram

In recognition of the Inverness (NIP) and Spirit of Speyside whisky festivals, and World Whisky Day on 16 May, this edition of Scotland Magazine embraces the glorious Scotch whisky trails of Badenoch, Moray and Banff on Scotland's north east shoulder, hugged by the Moray Firth and North Sea. Rich in river and pasture, the waters of this gentle landscape have helped to nurture Scotland's greatest consumer export product, contributing hugely to the UK economy.

Behind every distillery there is a story – of illicit stills, smuggling, excisemen and gaugers, and resilient local farming families making a living from the resources available to them. The Scots have always excelled at making the most of what they already have: the peat and barley from the soil using the streams and conduits of the mountains. Throughout Scotland's history, the water of life – the uisge beatha – has flowed as an inspirational theme, recognised, of course, by the forty or more visitor centres dedicated to the craft. Scotch Whisky distilleries are now recognised as an integral part of Scottish tourism.

And while on that subject, it should be noted that the Scottish Government has designated 2015 as Scotland's Year of Food and Drink. Over the coming months, our traditional home-grown larder of beef, lamb and venison, trout, salmon and seafood, vegetables and fruit will henceforth hold centre stage at local markets, farm shops, grocers, fishmongers, and in restaurants and hotels across the country, from north to south. So look out for the signs.

With the 2015 Scottish Hotel Awards held at The Crowne Plaza in Glasgow on Sunday 19 April (see page 74 ), hospitality and catering – the places to stay and the places to eat – is very much at the forefront of our editorial content.

Scotland can now justifiably claim to have some of the world's best chefs serving up some of the world's most innovative recipes. On page 58, for example,
Scotland Magazine's cookery writer par excellence Sue Lawrence reveals the magic of that mouthwatering fish dish, the Arbroath Smokie.

Also in this edition, we make a return visit to The Haining in Selkirk (
Scotland Magazine 76) to discover the origins of the Dandie Dinmont terrier. Our historic house this month centres on the Ardkinglas Estate in Argyll; Keith Fergus commends his ten best Spring Walks, and I revisit Rosslyn Chapel to see the results of a remarkable 15 year conservation programme.