It's the last week of my show in London, so I thought I'd give a quick mention to one or two of the paintings in the show and say a word about them.
I have a friend who has a little cottage in the Braes of Glenlivet, near Tomintoul in the Highlands. It's a typical croft, with two rooms downstairs, a couple of attic rooms, water from a spring, and open fires for heating. I've been lucky enough to stay there a few times over the years, and it's good to see the familiar land around it in all weathers and times of the year. Sometimes we even manage to be there during the Tomintoul Highland Games, which are very traditional, with lots of caber tossing, hammer throwing, tug-o-war, and running up the nearest hill and back again.
This painting was done on a walk near to the cottage in September.
Cottages by Forest, Braes of Glenlivet (Oil on linen, 26 x 32)
I like the dark line of the trees, the colour of the tin roof and the autumn colours of the fields and hedgerow.
This painting was done just along the road from the cottage. Other crofts are scattered around, all along the river plain. The very distinctively-patterned, gentle hills undulate in the distance. Again, the colours are that of the autumn, all purples and oranges.
Meandering Stream, Glenlivet (Oil on linen, 20 x 20)
Now, of course, if you mention Glenlivet, then probably the first thing you think of is the whisky, which is produced at a distillery nearby. The Glenlivet is a single malt whisky - apparently the best selling single malt whisky in the United States, no less.
I can't say taste-wise that it's one of my favourites, although it does get more interesting the older it gets. Don't bother with the 10 year old. Although if it was a toss-up between a glass of Glenlivet 10-year old and a measure of Penderyn (the only whisky from Wales), then it would be the Glenlivet every time. I got a bottle of Penderyn on my painting trip to Wales, and it's shocking - no finish at all.
So lets look at some Glenlivet, made from all that lovely natural soft Speyside water....
...and then have a look at the colours of my painting, based on all that lovely natural landscape...
Hmmm....that correlation wasn't deliberate, honestly!
Glenlivet is quite a simple flavour. It's a Speyside malt, and so is smooth and uncomplicated, with none of the peaty, smoky or briny flavours of the Island whiskies, which are all about the sea, the iodine of the seaweed, the peaty soil. Glenlivet tastes like where it comes from - all rolling hills, soft water, flowery and floral. It's quite peachy. The older it gets, the smoother it is, the fuller and more developed the flavour.
Now, when I go to Skye, I get a bottle of Talisker, and that's very very nice.
As an Island whisky, it also tastes of where it comes from. It's peaty and heathery, sweet and peppery, spicy, briny and smoky. It has a very complex flavour, like swallowing the landscape, and a very very long finish. In other words, once you've drunk it, you feel the warmth of it going down, whilst the flavour is still full and developing in your mouth.
And it also gets better the older it is. The 25 year old is something special. However, I've yet to try the Dark Storm, which apparently is even smokier, an effect which has been achieved by using some heavily-charred casks for maturation.
So if you're ever given a whisky and asked to taste it and guess what it is, the most obvious thing to think of is whether it tastes peaty or smoky, or not. That gives you a big clue to distinguish the Islands from the Speysides or Lowland. Or Welsh.