Bonfire weekend, 5-6th November, this year saw us join the annual Whisky, Fire & Song event with the community on Raasay. This year it was also a chance to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.
Saturday morning kicked off with an architecture tour of the Isle of Raasay Distillery site with our ABIR architect, Olli Blair. As well as seeing how the site is taking shape, visitors heard about other Raasay buildings that have helped inform the design of the distillery and renovation of Borodale House, so that it will slot seamlessly into the unique landscape that is Raasay.
It was a chance for our team to see the rest of the steel up, standing proud to form the frame of the distillery production unit, which will accept our Tuscan stills later in November.
This was followed by a tour of grand Raasay House and a cake competition in their cafe. Children from the community baked cakes in the shape of well-known Raasay buildings and everyone was a winner!
Raasay Brewing Co. Whisky Oak-Aged Beer
During the cake competition, some of our R&B team headed off to do a little exciting preparation work for the evening event. Raasay Brewing Company worked with Plockton Brewery to oak-age beer in a Raasay While We Wait red wine finishing cask – and newly bottled they needed labelling! 200 odd bottles later of ‘Groundwork’ we just had time for a quick drive up to Brochel Castle to take in the swiftly-changing view (hidden by magical mist one moment and sunny blue skies the next) before heading to the Isle of Raasay Distillery site for the ‘fire’ element of Whisky, Fire & Song.
Whisky, FIRE & Song
The torch procession began as usual at the distillery site – though looking very different from this time last year! The first tradition was to share a quaich of Raasay While We Wait, poured by Co-Founder, Alasdair Day.
Around 50 people (and a few dogs) joined the procession. Adults carried flaming torches and children with painted faces and jellyfish lanterns lead the giant jellyfish effigy down to the shore to set the bonfire alight.
Having learned our lesson from the wild Hebridean wind of 2015, petrol soaked torches stood up much better to the weather and guided everyone through the dark. Raasay’s voluntary fire service were of course on hand to advise on safety.
The giant jellyfish met it’s end atop a sturdy bonfire structure that flamed into the night. Inside the boathouse, everyone warmed up from the November cold with drams of Raasay While We Wait whisky, Raasay oak-aged beer and other tipples, including a keg of the Plockton brew before it went into Raasay While We Wait casks so that drinkers could taste clearly the effect of the Tuscan wine finished whisky. Later the staff from Raasay House brought down warming stovies and soup. All proceeds from the bar and food went to the upkeep of the boathouse.
Whisky, Fire & SONG
All were delighted by Iain Hector Ross’ Gaelic melodies and a specially written song that resonated well with all who live on or visit Raasay – will the ferry go?
Singing continued in Raasay House late into the night and those who preferred a lie in on Sunday were treated to takeaway breakfast rolls and coffee from the kitchen team in time for the 10am ferry back to Skye.
Who’s joining us for Whisky, Fire & Song next year when the Isle of Raasay Distillery will be complete?