Aug 112017
 

Food and drink producers blend together to give festival fans a taste of Spirit of Speyside: Distilled. With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Now in its second year, Distilled aims to showcase the region as a true foodie paradise offering so much more than whisky

Beer, beetroot and berry-flavoured gin – it’s an unusual combination but some of Speyside’s best food and drink producers are about to blend together for an event that will tantalise tastebuds. Over 30 exhibitors have confirmed they will be taking part in Spirit of Speyside: Distilled – a celebration of the region’s gastronomy – next month.

Small producers such as Simpson’s Ice Cream, Berry Good Gin, rum distillers Beach Craft Spirits, Spey Valley Brewery and chocolates from Favour-it Flavours will set up alongside globally renowned brands including Baxters, The Glenlivet, Walkers Shortbread and The Macallan for the two-day event.

Spirit of Speyside: Distilled, which is staged in Elgin Town Hall on September 1 and 2, is an off-shoot of the popular annual Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.

Now in its second year, Distilled aims to showcase the region as a true foodie paradise offering so much more than whisky.

Festival chairman James Campbell says the fact that Distilled blends together household names with small one-man operations proved to be a real talking point at last year’s inaugural event, and organisers are delighted to introduce new exhibitors this year.

He adds,

“It is only when so many food and drink producers are gathered together under one roof that people really begin to realise how many fantastic companies we have operating right here on our own doorstep.

“The feedback we got from visitors last year was that they really enjoyed being able to wander around, sampling cocktails, gin, whisky and beer and getting a taste of the food that has also put Speyside on the map.

“And, of course, it is a great opportunity for them to come face to face with the people who are critical to our food and drink industry – the master distillers, distillery managers and innovators – which is also a hallmark of the main Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.”

As well as producers, visitors to the event will be able to enjoy the products served up by some of Speyside’s best bars and eateries. The Copper Dog – part of the Craigellachie Hotel – will be re-created in the hall’s Supper Room and will have cocktails flowing, live music and food.

The Station Hotel, Rothes, will have a team of mixologists on hand to pour its signature range of whisky and gin cocktails – including the specially created ‘Distilled’ in honour of the event – while Elgin-based bar The Drouthy Cobbler will be giving visitors a taste of what it provides along with some Speyside-themed street food.

And – showing that Speyside is not all about hills and glens – the team at Harbour Lights in the coastal town of Lossiemouth will be showing off local seafood by serving up smoked salmon canapes and other treats.

In addition to the wide number of exhibitors, there is a programme of masterclasses giving visitors the chance to enjoy rare and cask strength drams, learn how to pair food, and discover more about Speyside’s other drinks producers. Tickets for masterclasses must be bought in addition to entry tickets.

Distilled, which is sponsored by Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, will run for four different sessions, one from 1-5pm and one from 6-10pm on each day. Tickets are priced at £20 which includes entry, six vouchers for tasting samples of gin, whisky or beer, a lanyard and a Glencairn crystal nosing and tasting glass.

All whisky, gin, beer and foods on offer will have a Speyside provenance and there will be the chance to purchase products from stand holders. Festival merchandise will also be available to buy.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.distilled.scot Distilled is active on social media at www.facebook.com/distilledscot on Twitter and Instagram @distilledscot. Follow the festival at #distilled17

Aug 042017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

Comedian Justin Moorhouse will hold his show at NOX nightclub.

Organisers of Aberdeen Comedy Festival have signed up several new venues across the city centre as they announce a new and improved format for this year.
A total of ten new venues have signed up to host stand-up shows in the Granite City later this year, bringing the total number of venues to 27.
Launched by Aberdeen Inspired in 2016, this years’ festival will run from Thursday, October 5 to Sunday,
October 15.

The eleven-day festival, which has been organised with programming partner Breakneck Comedy, will feature national and international comedians performing across the city centre.

New venues for 2017 include, the Belmont Filmhouse, Aberdeen Douglas Hotel, Sing City, La Lombarda Basement Bar, The Shack, The Wild Boar, Spin, NOX, Lemon Tree, and the Wee Glen situated in Glentanar Bar.

Venues for the festival now range from a capacity of 30 seats at the Wee Glen to 350 seats at Aberdeen Arts Centre, giving organisers venues around the city centre to suit to suit any act or audience.

Comedian Justin Moorhouse will hold his show at NOX nightclub and the Belmont Filmhouse will screen several comedy movies throughout the festival, including Airplane! and Wayne’s World.

Sponsored by McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale, the festival will comprise over 50 events, including five free stand-up shows, comedy workshops for children and adults, kids shows, and local talent showcases.

The festival format has been changed this year to include a selection of solo performances as well as shows with several comedians taking to the stage.

Shows will also be staggered so comedy fans have the opportunity to attend several without having to choose between events starting at the same time.

Described as the Canadian Billy Connolly, Craig Campbell will headline the launch of the festival at the Lemon Tree in partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA).

Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay, who performed at the festival last year, will make a return alongside other comedians, including Patrick Monahan, Gary Delaney and Shazia Mirza – who have all recently featured on a range of panel shows on TV.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We’re delighted to welcome our new venues to Aberdeen Comedy Festival this year. It’s great to have more businesses involved after the festival’s very successful debut in 2016.

“It really captured the imagination and people turned out in large numbers for shows across the city centre which had a positive knock-on effect for businesses. As well as Aberdonians, we welcomed people from the wider north-east area and beyond who were keen to see comedy shows.

“The full line-up will be announced soon and we hope people will take the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic range of comedy which will be performed on their doorstep.”

More than 3,100 tickets were sold during the laughter filled extravaganza in 2016, as well as over 1,500 tickets from APA and Beach Ballroom promoted events.

Gavin Paterson, general manager of Aberdeen Douglas Hotel, said:

“Aberdeen Comedy Festival is a fantastic opportunity for businesses in the city centre to showcase their venues and host stand-up shows for the public.

“When we saw how successful the festival was in its first year we were very keen to play our part in 2017 and we are delighted to be hosting both Australian comic Damian Clark and the returning Billy Kirkwood who really impressed Aberdonian crowds last year.”

Colin Farquhar, Belmont Filmhouse cinema manager, added:

“We’re very excited to be involved in this year’s Aberdeen Comedy Festival. It’s another great string to the city’s cultural bow and we’re delighted that as well as screening some classic comedies, we’re able to host a few stand-up performances too.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district. More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Jul 282017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Denise Middler with her miracle baby Owen and partner Darren. She has completed a year of tough challenges to celebrate Owen reaching his fifth birthday.

Little Owen Farquharson really is a miracle baby: conceived on a third and final attempt at IVF and then born in breech in the back of a car with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, his parents feel blessed that he is about to celebrate his fifth birthday.
So, it seemed fitting to mum Denise Middler that she would mark the milestone occasion with a year of personal challenges to give thanks for Owen growing up into a strong little boy and to show how he has helped to turn her own life around.

Over the past seven months she has taken a leap of faith on white-knuckle zip lines, walked a half marathon, completed an adventure obstacle course and ran her way around numerous 5K and 10K races.

Her year of fund-raising and self-challenge will come to an end on September 24 when she takes on the River Ness 10K at the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running.

It will have added significance to Denise as Inverness was the place where she and her brother Richie – who died very suddenly 10 years ago as a result of heart disease –  grew up together. It will be an emotional journey, but little Owen will be there to walk with her hand-in-hand as she crosses the finish line.

Denise (42) from Inverurie in Aberdeenshire has suffered from severe endometriosis since she was a teenager and was warned that the condition – which leaves her in crippling pain – would mean she would find it impossible to conceive a child naturally.

The condition, which is thought to affect as many as one in 10 women in the UK, results in cells like those found in the lining of the womb developing elsewhere in the body, building up and then breaking down and bleeding.

Denise and partner Darren, (39), had almost given up all hope of ever having a child of their own. They were over the moon to discover she was pregnant after undergoing three rounds of IVF treatment.

“I had suffered for many years with what was believed to be pelvic inflammatory disease, but I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my early 20s. Medication helped initially, but over the years I’ve had to have open surgery and keyhole surgery to remove cysts,” she explains.

“It’s a difficult condition to manage because one day I will be fine, and the next I will be doubled over in pain and not even able to walk. To look at me, most people would never even know that I was ill other than my tummy swelling up.

“I became really depressed when I was told I would not be able to have children. I wanted more than anything to be a mother, and wondered what my goal in life would be if it wasn’t possible for me to have a family.

“After settling down with Darren we looked into options and were offered IVF. We were left under no illusions that it would be very difficult because the endometriosis had left my body in such a mess, but it was still absolutely soul destroying when the first two attempts failed.

“When I fell pregnant at the third attempt we were incredibly happy, but terrified. I was scared to move: I wanted the baby so much and I was worried that something would happen. During my pregnancy was the only time I never experienced the pain of endometriosis because all of the blood supply was concentrated on helping the baby grow.”

Denise enjoyed perfect health throughout the pregnancy, but Owen decided that he was going to make his entrance into the world 11 days earlier than planned. Darren and her parents drove her to hospital in Aberdeen, but were forced to pull over to the side of the road when Denise reached down and felt a foot.

In an amazing stroke of luck, they were able to flag down a passing police car and the officers took over midwife duties until an ambulance arrived. Owen was in the breech position and, terrifyingly, was not breathing when he was born because he was being choked by the umbilical cord.

Denise, however, remained perfectly calm throughout and knew within her heart that her little boy was going to be fine. He was whisked away to hospital, and her instincts were proved correct when a message came over the police radio to let her know the paramedics had found a heartbeat.

The endometriosis returned when Owen was about nine months old and the only treatment now available will be a hysterectomy. She says she will only consider surgery when her son is older and more able to do things for himself.

Denise refuses to be beaten by the condition and set out this year to show what can be achieved by a determination to overcome the pain. She has completed many fund-raising challenges with Darren and a close group of friends, raising money for the British Heart Foundation in memory of her brother and the MS Society for a friend who was diagnosed with the condition in her 30s.

After completing the River Ness 10K, she will also stage a fund-raising dinner dance with the proceeds going to the Aberdeen Fertility Clinic.

Denise says,

“I am by no means an elite athlete and it is only through the support of my family and friends that I have been able to complete all my challenges so far. But I have been determined to do it to show what can be done when we put our minds to it.

“The River Ness 10K will be very special, not just because it marks the end of the year of challenges, but because it has a special place in my heart with so many memories of my childhood in Inverness with my brother, whom I miss so much.

“To have Owen there at the finish will be truly amazing: by the law of averages he really shouldn’t be here and he genuinely is a miracle. I think it just shows that miracles really do happen and if you want something badly enough you should never give up hope.”

Many runners taking part in the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running – renowned for its scenic beauty and family-friendly atmosphere – will be taking part for charity. The main charity partner of the event is Macmillan Cancer Support and there are three lead charities – Chest Heart Stroke Scotland, Highland Hospice and MS Society.

Runners can also support 15 other affiliate charities, although hundreds of participants will use the event to raise money for good causes close to their own hearts.

In addition to the 10K, the event also incorporates the marathon, 10K Corporate Challenge, River Ness 5K and the Wee Nessie fun run for pre-schoolers. The finish line is at based around the Event Village at the Bught Park in Inverness where runners and spectators can enjoy the Baxters Food and Drink Fayre, a Sports Expo, live music and activities for children.

Entry is now open for all races online at www.lochnessmarathon.com until September 4, with places available in the Loch Ness Marathon for charity, club and overseas runners. The event is active on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

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Jul 212017
 

With thanks to Kieran Booth.

Following her hit 2015 show, Miss Myrtle Throgmorton OBE (pending) is returning to the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe with a brand new production.
The critics, in 2015, stayed away but the audience came in droves and through word of mouth, a brief stint with the Really Terrible Orchestra and some energetic flyering, the show was sold out most nights – and everyone had a hoot! [“Very, very funny” – STV]  

So the game old trout, ancient heckler and exuberant enthusiast for all things Scottish, is back, Stuffed and Mounted, mad-rabbiting on about the delights of a long life – giddy aunts, Burns, beards, Creamola Foam, Zimmer Zumba and much more.

Myrtle is created by former BBC Comedy producer Jennie Campbell / Chalmers, and has been developed over many years although Jennie admits that the original bag-for-life is now, worryingly, more ‘ego’ than ‘alter’.  Since her Fringe debut, Miss Throgmorton has been making appearances across the North East of Scotland at charity gigs, Burns Suppers and two sell-out runs at the Haddo Arts Festival.

Myrtle’s accumulated years are off-set by the youthful vigour of baritone, Colin Brockie and pianist, Richard Bailey who join her for the three-week run at the Fringe. The production could also be unique on the 2017 Festival as the cast and crew all come from rural Aberdeenshire: Colin from Ellon, Richard from Udny, and Jennie, Kieran and Mary from Barthol Chapel.

Myrtle is still chairman of the Surrey Association for Lonely, Misplaced Or Non-Domiciled Scots [ALEX] but has been rusticated from her sheltered housing scheme [a minor misunderstanding over a game of sardines with her friend Midriff Bulge] and now lives as the permanent resident in a once–grand hotel.

The audience will be her ‘fellow diners’ and much conversation and banter will ensue as she shares her opinion on pretty much everything [advanced age is so liberating], punctuated by live and original music from Richard, some ‘proper’ singing from Colin and a little nifty hip work from Myrtle herself.  

Once again, every show will end with a surprise guest joining Myrtle for cheery chat over the coffee and mints. The audience is completely unaware who the guest will be – indeed Myrtle herself may not be entirely up to speed until just before the off.

2015 guests included Rory Bremner, Arnold Brown, Lieven Schiere and Alan Cumming. 

It could be a TV celebrity, an acclaimed author, the face of a familiar radio voice, a rising star, an unknown character with a story to tell, someone with a great, undiscovered show or the joker from the café on the corner…  A truly potluck surprise, in the spirit of the Fringe, and every one a guaranteed delight!

After a brief career as a London lawyer, and a briefer one cleaning houses, Jennie Campbell joined BBC Radio Comedy as a producer of such programmes as Week Ending, The News Quiz and The Edinburgh Festival Compilations, scouting the Fringe in the 80s for hungry new young talent.
On moving to Scotland, she switched from satirical news to the real thing and has been variously a radio presenter [Newsweek Scotland], news and current affairs producer, director of theatre, opera and musicals, drama teacher, arts organizer, serial committee member and session clerk.

With Myrtle Throgmorton, Jennie makes a long overdue return to her comedy roots.

Venue: Mint Studio | Greenside @ Infirmary St. [Venue 236]                   
Dates: 4th – 26th August [not Sundays]                     
Time: 18.25 [55 mins]                                                          

Tickets: £10/£9/£5 

Box Office: edfringe.com / 0131 618 0758
Website: www.myrtleproductions.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/myrtlethrog
Twitter: www.twitter.com/myrtlethrog   (@myrtlethrog)

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Jul 142017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

A leading north-east of Scotland business organisation is celebrating European success after scooping a prestigious award for its work to revitalise Aberdeen city centre.
Aberdeen Inspired has been crowned European Business Improvement District (BID) 2017 by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The award ceremony, which was held in Berlin on Tuesday, July 11, was attended by representatives of the eight finalist organisations, European business leaders and government officials from across the continent.

Aberdeen Inspired’s leading role in delivering the successful Nuart Aberdeen Festival in April played a significant part in the judge’s decision to declare the organisation as the winner of the 2017 award.

As well as lobbying on behalf of its levy payers and supporting festivals and projects in the city, the success of other Aberdeen Inspired projects such as the first Aberdeen Comedy Festival, Summer of Art, and the Aberdeen Christmas Village also helped the organisation to stand out against other finalists, including Amsterdam and Hamburg.  

Each year the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry recognises successful initiatives which increase the attractiveness of and strengthen and revitalise city centres, residential districts and commercial areas.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, was in Berlin to represent the organisation at the European BID awards.

He said:

“We are very proud to be European BID of the year 2017. Being shortlisted as a finalist was a great recognition of our work for Aberdeen but winning outright is a fantastic achievement which we hope will serve as an inspiration to the city, the wider north-east, and across the country.

“To make it to the final we were up against organisations from across the continent, ranging from Albania to the Nordic countries, so the field for the award was wide-ranging and very competitive.

“All our efforts with projects like Nuart Aberdeen and the comedy festival are focused on improving the city centre to drive footfall there and boost traders in the area. During the Nuart Aberdeen Festival 87% of visitors to Aberdeen stated it was completely or very likely that they would return to the city for the festival if it was repeated next year, and we are delighted to be in discussions to secure the festival for the coming years.

“To be recognised as best in Europe for our innovation and success is very satisfying and we are determined to achieve much more.”

The European BID award success follows fast on the heels of UK recognition for Aberdeen Inspired which achieved notable success at the UK and Ireland Association of Town and City Management’s (ATCM) annual awards in June for innovation and best BID.

Mr Watson added:

“Our success in the UK and now in Europe has been made possible through a strong joined up approach with our partners including Aberdeen City Council and our city centre businesses.

“Despite the challenging operating environment in our city and wider north-east they have all rallied to the cause and shown the rest of the country some excellent practices to boost economic and cultural activity that lead the way.

“We should all take a great deal of confidence from this success and it brings the right kind of recognition that our great city deserves. However, we all understand that we cannot stand still and there is still much to do as the city continues its transition, but be sure Aberdeen Inspired will continue to play its part.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district. More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available at: www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Jul 062017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

Some of the most popular stand-up comedians from UK and beyond will return to the Granite City later this year for the second Aberdeen Comedy Festival.

Launched by Aberdeen Inspired in 2016, this year’s festival will run from Thursday, October 5 to Sunday, October 15.

The eleven-day festival, which has been organised with programming partner Breakneck Comedy, will feature national and international comedians performing at more than 20 venues throughout the city centre.

Sponsored by McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale, the festival will comprise around 50 events, including five free stand-up shows, comedy workshops for children and adults, kids shows, local talent showcases and comedy films screened at the Belmont Filmhouse.

Described as the Canadian Billy Connolly, Craig Campbell (pictured) will headline the launch of the festival at the Lemon Tree in partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA).

Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay, who performed at the festival last year, will make a return alongside other comedians, including Justin Moorhouse, Gary Delaney and Shazia Mirza – who have all recently featured on a range of panel shows on TV.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We’re delighted to launch the second Aberdeen Comedy Festival following its tremendous success last year. It really captured the imagination and people turned out in strength for shows across the city centre which had a positive knock-on effect for businesses in the area.

“As well as Aberdonians, we welcomed people from the wider north-east area and beyond, and a group even travelled from Norway to see their favourite comedians perform on stage.

“Our aim is to provide the best comedy for both residents and visitors to Aberdeen to enjoy. We have some fantastic comedians already confirmed and the full line-up will be announced soon.

“We hope the public will take the opportunity to enjoy the fantastic range of comedy which will be performed on their doorstep.”

Alan Aitken, Operations Director of McGinty’s, added:

“As a local business, it’s great to welcome cultural events like the Comedy Festival to our city and following the success of last year, we’re really delighted to support the event again.

“It was great to see the people from Aberdeen and around the north-east out in force and enjoying a laugh, and we hope to see even more this year.”

More than 3,100 tickets were sold during the laughter filled extravaganza in 2016, as well as over 1,500 tickets from APA and Beach Ballroom promoted events.

Aberdeen Performing Arts’ director of programming and creative projects, Ben Torrie, said:

“We’re very excited to be supporting the Comedy Festival and we are looking forward to kicking things off with the gala launch night here at The Lemon Tree.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district. More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Jun 232017
 

With thanks to Craig Chisholm.

Aberdeen’s very own festival in the city returns in September in what promises to be an entertaining weekend. True North, now in its’ third year, has announced another strong line up over the weekend of 7 – 10 September. Kicking off proceedings are highly acclaimed act Public Service Broadcasting

With their new album released in July their date at His Majesty’s Theatre on Thursday 7th September is sure to be a sell-out.

The album, entitled Every Valley, depicts the history of industry in Wales, chronicling the rise and decline of the country’s coal industry.

Following previous concerts at The Lemon Tree, this is Public Service Broadcasting’s biggest date in Aberdeen and, as anyone that has seen them before will testify, they are sure to put on another memorable performance.

If one gig isn’t enough on Thursday night, then be sure to pop past the Lemon Tree afterwards for a late show by art-rockers Wild Beasts. The band are scheduled to release a new album – Boy King – in August so this will provide an early opportunity to see them perform tracks from it.

Friday night again offers two bills in two venues –  cult Scottish indie band Arab Strap at The Tivoli whilst The Lemon Tree plays host to art-pop quartet Dutch Uncles.

The recently reformed Arab Strap recently sold out two nights at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom and at forthcoming events at the Kelvingrove Bandstand. The more intimate settings of The Tivoli will provide a perfect setting for the band’s unique storytelling and singular musical vision.

Manchester band Dutch Uncles take musical inspiration from Low-era Bowie, Kate Bush’s The Red Shoes, East European Techno and, they claim, “some slightly less fashionable records belonging to their Dads”. With inspirations like that how could you afford to miss them?

Saturday night at The Lemon Tree also provides the opportunity to stay up late as Lost Map Records main-man The Pictish Trail, better known to friends and family as Johnny Lynch, brings his unique blend of folk, electro and humour to the stage there once again. Guest DJs will also be on hand to spin tunes into the wee small hours.

It’s His Majesty’s Theatre that provides the most intriguing performance of the weekend – a full band interpretation of Fleetwood Mac’s legendry album Rumours. Start to End provide the musical backing and they will be joined onstage by musicians from Pronto Mama, Fat-Suit, Admiral Fallow and a few special guests still be announced. This should again prove a big draw and will appeal to fans of all ages.

Rounding up the weekend is a double bill of two Scotland’s most talented young performers as The Tivoli plays host to Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison and Kathryn Joseph, who was the winner of 2015 Scottish Album of the Year.

On top of the main performances there’ll also be a Fringe festival over the course the weekend at venues such as The Lemon Tree and intimate sessions at the Maritime Museum.

Tickets go on sale for all concerts on Friday 23rd November – http://www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/truenorth

Jun 162017
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Following the soaraway success of a festival launched last year to celebrate one of Scotland’s most fruitful food and drink regions, Spirt of Speyside: Distilled is to return – with an even greater range of home-grown flavours.

World leading drinks brands will join small artisan producers for the weekend festival at Elgin Town Hall on September 1 and 2 in a showcase of Speyside’s finest whisky, gin, beer and food.

Classic drams will be served up alongside contemporary cocktails with speciality coffee to try alongside grown-up fudge.

This year’s event has been extended to cover two floors of the venue with even more opportunities to sample food and drink and meet the producers passionate about Speyside and its produce.

It’s not just about the tastes that makes the Speyside region  – home to more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries – renowned across the world for its food and drink. Distilled gives opportunities to experience and learn more about the flavours, through a range of tutorials or ‘masterclasses’ staged by experts.

Tickets for Distilled go on sale on at 9am on Friday, June 16 and with limited places available, food and drink lovers are urged to get in quick to ensure they don’t miss out.

Distilled is delivered by the same team behind the world-famous Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival and the inaugural mini-festival went down a treat with audiences last year.

Festival manager Pery Zakeri says,

“Distilled is a melting pot of fantastic flavours and wonderful personalities sharing their enthusiasm for fine food and drink. It offers the chance to enjoy so many different tastes, as well as broadening knowledge of food and drink through our menu of masterclasses.

“We were delighted with the feedback from our inaugural event last year, which introduced a much younger audience to Speyside’s food and drink offering, and we are building on that with this year’s offering.

“We are proud to be playing a lead role in championing the region’s booming food and drink industry by bringing producers and the public together under one roof in celebration of the Speyside larder.”

Distilled drew gastronomes from all over Scotland as well as  visitors from overseas who wanted to be part of first festival of this kind to be held in Speyside. The big global players of the drinks industry stood shoulder to shoulder with small, up-and-coming producers in a mix that went down well with audiences.

Masterclasses ranged from the chance to sample rare and cask strength drams, to cocktail making and food pairing. A range of masterclasses are being offered again this year, costing an additional £15 per person, with full details of the range and times to be announced on the event website.

This celebration of Speyside’s food and drink features four different sessions and these take place from 1-5pm and 6-10pm each day. Tickets are priced at £20 which includes entry, six vouchers for tasting samples of gin, whisky or beer, a lanyard and a Glencairn crystal nosing and tasting glass.

All whisky, gin, beer and foods on offer will have a Speyside provenance and there will be the chance to purchase products from stand holders. There will also be festival merchandise available to buy.

For more information and to book tickets  visit www.distilled.scot

Distilled is active on social media at www.facebook.com/distilledscot on Twitter and Instagram @distilledscot. Follow the festival at #distilled17

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Jun 082017
 

Aberdeen’s Very Own Music Festival Returned for its Third Year, and Aberdeen Voice’s Craig Chisholm was there to review. Photos by Craig Chisholm.

With no T in The Park planned this year what are Scottish music fans supposed to do for their Summer festival fix?

Well, for residents of the North East, the answer was right on their doorstep as Enjoy Music returned for its third and, arguably, most successful year.

Boasting headliners such and Chase & Status, John Digweed and the legendary Primal Scream the festival moved up a league and proved not only was it here to stay but that it was also ready to expand and become a fixture of the festival circuit.

Unfortunately, however, things do not always go without a hitch.

A minor issue of missing toilets caused the opening of the festival to be delayed a couple of hours.

But times of hardship can bring out the best in people and it’s to the eternal credit of the organisers and their team that they managed to not only get things back on track but also not drop any of the acts from the bill.

Credit must also go to the bands performing on the main stage in the afternoon as they truncated their sets slightly to accommodate all acts and give everyone their time in the limelight.

Kicking things off are Aberdonian rockers The Ruckus who deliver a short set of, as they describe it, “no nonsense guitar driven rock n roll” and as far as descriptions go that’s certainly one that describes things perfectly.

Afternoon slots are also performed by Montrose band Emerald Sunday with their indie and britpop influenced rock and hugely popular local cover band FUBAR who provide some technically impressive renditions of Queen and AC/DC among others.

The hard rock takes a back seat for a while after this and gives way to the more soulful and funk sounds of FaR.

Led by the striking and powerful vocalist Fifi Greasly the band prove the perfect sound to an afternoon in the sun.

The same also applies to the magnificent Ransom FA. Mixing the urban sounds of hip hop, grime and trap the Aberdeen based crew pull of a short but energetic and forward thinking set to an obviously impressed crowd.

But, unfortunately, the sun doesn’t last and, as is customary at music festivals in Scotland, the heavens open.

It rains during sets by The Complete Stone Roses and acclaimed local indie band The Little Kicks.

That doesn’t stop the crowd from enjoying them however – The Complete Stone Roses pull off a pretty good approximation of their Manchester heroes.

The Little Kicks, led by frontman Steve Milne, perform an infectious and memorable set in support of their latest album, Shake Off Your Troubles.

The rain does however provide an unexpected bonus for bands and DJs playing in the tents as a lot of the crowd take shelter.

The Retro and Alternative tent has an eclectic bill that combines acoustic (Mark Buchan, Peterhead’s Marc Culley and others), the melodic Byrds and britpop influenced rock from Keith band The Carousels and hip hop from local rap legends SHY & DRS.
The retro part of the day is provided by a quite compelling performance by Bob Wyper in his guise as Rod Stewart, which goes down a storm in the packed tent as he runs through Rod’s big hits as the actual storm rages outside.

Also performing some covers, albeit in a unique style, are young band Gleadraich.

Hailing from Carnoustie the band perform songs by Blondie and The Undertones and many more with the added attraction of a bagpipe player taking centre stage, mimicking the vocal parts of the songs in most cases. It’s an unusual and entertaining concept that wins them over new fans of all ages.

The night in the tent is rounded off by a set by Ransom FA’s official DJ, Nojan and a set by Aberdonian alternative rockers The Cappolos.

Festivals aren’t just for grown-ups though, and Enjoy has catered for the kids as well – a whole section of the field is set aside for them which has slides, football challenges, colouring in walls, Disney princesses and Marvel Superheroes casually walking past. A family tent provides such entertainment as hip hop dancing for the eager kids. 

In the middle of it all is a Wrestling ring manned by Wrestlezone Scotland. There is a constant crowd packed  around the ring (not all of them children either!) as the Wrestlezone boys and girls provide action packed entertainment throughout the day.

There must have been a few parents pestered afterwards to get tickets to Wrestlezone’s Aberdeen Anarchy event at the Beach Ballroom on the 10th June once they’d seen this performance.

Back to the music however, and for those that prefer dance beats to electric guitars, two venues are available on site.

The TLF & Rondevue wigwam is steady all day with the crowd appreciating sets by a talented DJs such as Danny Reid, Tim Haux and Flexi.

It’s the perfect place to chill out in the sun and appreciate the day.

The Digital Love & Majestic Tent is the bigger of the dance stages and it proves immensely popular throughout the day to clubbers.

By the time that dance titan John Digweed takes the stage for a two hour set the tent is rammed with the faithful who witness a peerless set from the legendary DJ.

Closing off the Main Stage are the two biggest bands of the night.

Primal Scream are, as usual, a breath-taking live act. Their 75 minute set contains a few choice cuts from their latest album – 2016’s Chaosmosis – such as 100% or Nothing, Where The Light Gets In and Golden Rope as well such classics as the southern fried boogie of Jailbird, the laid back dubby grooves of Star, and the psychedelic dance classic Slip Inside This House.

The band close off their set with four of their absolute classics – Loaded, Country Girl, Rocks and Movin’ On Up before departing the stage to appreciative and ecstatic audience. The bands next Scottish performance is as special guests to The Stone Roses at a sold out Hampden Park in a few weeks so it’s a genuine thrill and a commendable coup to the Enjoy organisers to have them perform in a much more intimate outdoor setting.

In another coup of a booking, Chase & Status take the stage for a DJ set of high energy dance and rap.

Credit to the crowd at this point too.

After over 9 hours of music they are still packed at the front and “giving it large” for their set which the faithful clearly never want to stop.

But eventually it must end, and as the crowd depart after the last acts they must already be looking forward to next year’s event – and possibly making a mental note to take a rain jacket next time, just in case.

How the promoters top this year’s event remains to be seen. But one thing for sure is Enjoy Music is only going to get bigger and better as it goes on.

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Jun 022017
 

Portsoy’s Sail Loft Bunkhouse. Review and photographs by Duncan Harley.

When newspaper columnist Cuthbert Graham wrote about Portsoy, way back in 1963, he commented that the town was one of the most progressive communities on the Moray Firth.
In his travel column, This is My Country, he wrote about the “triumphant success” of the town’s efforts to encourage tourism.

He was quite correct and the town, nowadays a bustling coastal resort and popular stopover on the 6200km-long North Sea Cycle Route, has steadfastly continued to pursue a policy of encouraging community run tourist orientated enterprise.

Alongside attending the hugely successful Portsoy Boat Festival visitors can take part in traditional music and dance workshops at the Salmon Bothy and boatbuilding courses at the Boatshed. Tourism in the town received a welcome extra boost when film makers chose Portsoy as a location for the recent remake of the Ealing comedy Whisky Galore.

Alongside leads Eddie Izzard and Gregor Fisher, many locals appear as extras in the film and at the recent Portsoy Premiere, held in the loft-space of the Salmon Bothy, film-goers were encouraged to get into the spirit of the performance and dip into some whisky-flavoured ice cream. Publicists had, after all, promoted Portsoy’s Whisky Galore connection by nicknaming the town The Village of the Drammed!

Visitor accommodation in the town received a boost this year with the opening of the newly renovated Sail Loft Bunkhouse. Situated on the Back Green near the caravan park, the Sail Loft has had a long and varied history.

Formerly a sail making factory, the Category B listed building dates from the 18th Century and sits within a former industrial site used for the processing of flax and the manufacture of rope. When the demand for sails declined and the rope-works closed the Sail Loft buildings gradually fell into ruin.

In 2006 the North East Scotland Preservation Trust acquired the property from the Seafield Estate and work began to bring the derelict structure into productive use as bunkhouse accommodation for visitors to Portsoy. After 11 years of planning and renovation, the keys to the building were formally handed over to Portsoy Community Enterprise in January 2017. Additional loan funding came via the Architectural Heritage Fund.

Offering high quality self-catering accommodation at reasonable rates, the new 25 bed facility offers visitors to Portsoy a unique hub from which to explore the Moray coastline.  Facilities Assistant Susan Rayne explains:

“Users so far have included cyclists, walkers and families. This weekend we even have a group of divers staying with us.”

Susan is one of a team of three involved in the day to day management of the Sail Loft and is by all accounts fully integrated into the local community.

Alongside her bunkhouse duties she serves as a volunteer fire-fighter and is a keen member of the local women’s rowing group, the Portsoy Skiffettes. Another claim to fame is her role as official chauffeur to Whisky Galore star Eddie Izzard during the location shooting of the movie in Portsoy.

“The buzz in the town was just amazing” she recalls

“Eddie Izzard was very open with the locals and was really interested in finding out about the area.”

It emerged that Eddie was due to perform at Versailles after the Whisky Galore shoot and  Susan recalls that he was amazed to discover that fireplaces in the Palace of Versailles are rumoured to be faced with Portsoy Marble.

Although the Sail Loft is clearly bunkhouse in nature, the new facility offers up-market self-catering accommodation. Guest rooms are simply but pleasantly furnished with white décor throughout. Named after local landmarks, the room plan reads like a who’s who of the Portsoy coastline. Red Rock, The Pointie and The Breeks are just a few. On our visit we stayed in The Dounie.

The design of the building does not allow for panoramic views of the sea but the slanted Velux windows do let in both the sound and the smells of the ocean and provide a welcome change to the typical hotel room hum of the air-conditioning unit. Those wanting to check out the view should either nip outside or, heaven forbid if you are female, check out cubicle three in the downstairs men’s showers where you can view the bay in all of its glory.

Catering-wise, the open-plan kitchen and dining area is more than adequate. Two 4 ring hobs are complimented by micro-waves, kettles and an ample supply of toasters. Pots and pans, dishes and cutlery are all provided and the only onus on residents is to leave the kitchen as you might wish to find it. I was pleasantly surprised to come across an orphaned cafetiere abandoned by a previous guest and made full use of it.

The Sail Loft lounge boasts a wood burning stove and is perfect for family get-togethers or business seminars.  Alongside a video-projector there are lots of local books, toys and games to keep everyone entertained in the evenings. A drying room, secure cycle storage, a fully equipped laundrette and an outside wash down area for boots or bicycle cleaning complete the line-up and this VisitScotland 4 star hostel even boasts a wood fired hot-tub.

On the night of our stay a group of divers were firmly ensconced in front of the roaring wood-stove planning the next days dive while a group of teachers enjoyed the warmth of the outdoor hot-tub.

All in all this new facility ticks the boxes although it would have been nice to have the option of sitting behind glass while taking in the sea view. But, as I said previously, there’s always cubicle three in the men’s showers!

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