Cashmere & Whisky Weekend
Guest Editor: Louise Roe
What an absolutely fascinating, whirlwind trip Mackenzie and I had up to Inverness in Scotland recently. I've never been to the Highlands, and the rolling green hills were quite literally a breath of fresh air.
We pitched up to the Johnstons of Elgin mill (where, by the way, anyone can take a tour), which is a vertical mill. What does that mean? Well, every single part of the process of making one of their gorgeous cashmere blankets, jumpers or baby booties is done on the same site.
From bags of cashmere freshly shorn from the tummies of Mongolian cashmere goats to the taped-up boxes being shipped off around the world, it's all done here from start to finish, which is very rare. The brand is turning 224 years old this Autumn and has been in the same two families since its inception. I was also happy to discover Johnstons of Elgin has its first female chair, Jenny Urquhart.
History nerd that I am, you can imagine my jaw dropped when the team showed me around their archives, full of enormous leather-bound books documenting every swatch and sale since the 1700s. They are written in gorgeous cursive fountain pen, which also made me miss the way people used to write back then.
You guys can watch the process of cashmere products being created from what looks like fluff on my IGTV here. I felt very honoured to watch the clever craftsmen and women up close, doing the same jobs many of their parents and grandparents did at the same mill. In fact, many pieces of machinery in the factory are between 50 and 100 years old, still working as well as the day they were created. One area that I found particularly charming was the hand-knitting department, a room full of adorable ladies who hand-make the baby hats and booties, infusing them with a little love in the process.
We spent two nights at a sweet hotel called the Craigellachie, the best part of which was its pub, the Copper Dog, such a cosy setting it felt more like a ski lodge in Aspen! The food was delish, and of course, we had to try a wee dram of whisky at the Quaich bar afterwards, famous for having over 1000 whiskeys to choose from.
As you can probably tell, I can’t recommend this tour - or a trip to the entire area – more highly. I kept imagining the hills dusted in snow, which apparently happens at Christmas. What a cosy time to come up here!