Some Scotish News & Views Issue # 425

Issue # 425                                     Week ending Saturday 4th November 2017
Is it A Bird? Is it A Wind Turbine? No You Need to Get to A Filling Station by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Having just rolled off the car ferry from Armadale to Mallaig and loaded up with tuna sandwiches and pop, Mrs X was being her usual careful self before we left the fishing port. She wondered aloud whether we should get fuel before driving on to Fort William. Not necessary, I assured her and the brat. That was because my wonderful Mensa-rated brain was calculating that we had more than enough unleaded in the tank to get us to Oban, never mind the wee town under Ben Nevis. Leave it to me.

After all, I told them, I knew the Road to the Isles like the back of my hand and, I proudly declared, it was only 15 or 16 miles to Fort William. My superior knowledge always won the day so we whizzed past the Mallaig pumps and pressed on eastwards. It turned out that I knew the A830 road like the back of my head because we had done 18 miles and Ben Nevis seemed to have shrunk. Well, there was no sign of it. It dawned on me that I had actually no idea how far we had to go to. Then I happened to look down and there was a wee red thing winking at me. Not that. The light that tells you that you’re about to run out of fuel.

When had that started? Maybe it was flashing while we were still on Skye. Oh heck. I was not going to let on there’s a problem and come across as a numpty. But they spotted the red winker too. Why were there no filling stations on this road, I asked? We might be about to grind to a halt anytime. Have we got breakdown cover on this thing? What do you mean you want to stop to see if Harry Potter is flying round the Glenfinnan Viaduct? No way. What do you mean you want to stop and find a loo? Keep it in. Fort William is around the next corner ... well, maybe the next one.

Forty three miles on from Mallaig, with the needle below the E for Empty mark, we limped in tardy fuelsaving mode into Fort William. We just made it. I just made it without getting enough egg on my face to keep us in sandwiches for the next week. It taught me a lesson though. Red lights are there for a reason. They warn you about something that you need to pay attention to. Ignore them at your peril.

Which reminds me that we were watching a TV programme about central London recently and they were showing the sights of Soho. They mentioned the various types of business there. It was intriguing. When I saw a street I knew I explained that there was a string of saucy clubs in the next street when I lived in the capital. You knew the type of joint they were because they had gaudy flashing signs and red lights flashing all around them, I explained. Mrs X was incandescent. Red lights? How dare I? How dare I visit such seedy joints? No, I said. I had never visited these places myself. I had just been told. OK? Harrumph. Phew, I think I got away with that one.

Then a few weeks ago, we were coming back to Stornoway from Bernera and Mrs X was driving. She, of course, is a really good careful driver who avoids all the potholes in the road - especially the bad ones on the single-track bout a quarter of a mile from Achmore, up towards the Pentland Road. They are the ones our council tries to avoid fixing because that wee road is not as busy as the faster Lochs Road. Every time I drive there, it's - thump, wallop - and another £1,000 is wiped off the value of my van. It must be worth about minus £5,000 by now. I suppose I will have to pay that much for someone to take it away.

So, because herself is such a good driver and because it was late, I fell into a deep sleep on the way over from Bernera and we were soon at the Pentland Road. That landscape is really dramatically changed nowadays. There are just so many giant wind turbines there now. Each one, of course, has a big red flashing light on the top to warn low-flying aircraft. However, when you wake up after a wee norrag, it is easy to become confused. After my snooze, I looked out the window and, without thinking, said: “Ah, red lights. What on earth am I doing back in Soho? Are we going back into Club Ooh-la-la?”

Cutting Scotch Whisky Duty May Increase Treasury Tax Take, Say Scottish Tory MPs

Scottish Tory MPs have joined calls for Philip Hammond to cut tax on Scotch whisky at next month’s Budget.  Douglas Ross, Kirstene Hair and Bill Grant suggested cutting duty could actually increase the tax take for the Treasury, amid warnings a tax rise has coincided with one million fewer bottles of Scotch being sold.  Treasury minister Andrew Jones said the Government would continue to support the industry, but warned the Chancellor was facing tough choices over the public finances ahead of the Budget.  Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on the future of the Scottish whisky industry, Moray MP Mr Ross said: “On the point of taxation, would he agree with me that the Treasury should actually be looking at the benefits of reducing the taxation, because actually the Scotch Whisky Association, with the independent back-up of KPMG, have actually shown that by reducing the duty on Scotch whisky, you increase the revenues going to the Treasury.”  Angus MP Ms Hair added: “We have the fourth highest excise rate in the EU.  Other EU countries do support their home industries, and I think we too, even more so now, need to follow suit.” Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael, a former Scottish secretary who led the debate, said March’s Budget had brought in an increase of 3.9% in spirits duty, with a 3.4% increase forecast at the end of this month and a further 3% per year thereafter. It’s something of a super tax which I would suggest to the minister is ill-conceived, misguided and really does require some quite urgent consideration,” Mr Carmichael said.  “The increase in March did damage confidence.  It has led to a sharp decrease, a million bottles fewer sold in the first two quarters of this year compared to last year.”  Mr Jones said figures from the Scotch Whisky Association estimated the industry earns around £5 billion for the UK economy and supports more than 40,000 jobs, 7,000 of which are in the rural economy.

North Sea Oil and Gas Industry to Last Decades As There Are More Than 10 Billion Barrels Left
More than 10 billion barrels of oil remain in the North Sea and current production will be sustained for at least two decades, according to a new report.  The UK still has “significant petroleum reserves” which will last at least 20 years even if no new fields are discovered, said The Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) It estimates the overall remaining recoverable reserves and resources range between 10 to 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE). The body said there are approximately 5.7 billion BOE of proven reserves which based on current production forecasts has the capacity to sustain production for at least the next two decades. Production could go on even longer if additional undeveloped resources can be matured, the UK Oil and Gas: Reserves and Resources Report said. The OGA estimates there are 7.4 billion BOE of discovered undeveloped resources, much of which is in mature developed areas and under consideration for development.  The maturation of contingent resources - those which are not yet considered mature enough for commercial development - presents “significant opportunity for the continued development of the UK’s petroleum resources”. However, this will require “substantial investment in new field developments and incremental projects”, the report said.  Four new discoveries from exploration successes in 2016 added 210 million BOE to the contingent resource base.  The OGA’s operations director Gunther Newcombe described the UK’s waters as “world-class petroleum province with 10 to 20 billion barrels of remaining discovered and undiscovered potential.” He added: “The OGA has an important role in helping to steward this resource base, revitalise exploration and maximise economic recovery, working closely with industry and government. Future success of the basin requires attracting additional investment, implementing technology and company collaboration on new and existing developments.” But the report warns that the replacement of proven and probable reserves remains a concern in the industry and around £9billion will need to be invested to keep production even at current levels.

City of Edinburgh School of Music Could Be Saved From Council Cuts

Plans to close a renowned music school in Edinburgh could be blocked by the Scottish Government, it has emerged.  Ministers may step in to save the City of Edinburgh Music School which is under threat from a scheme by the local authority to spread out music tuition throughout the city.  The majority of the funding provided for the school is in the form of a block grant from Government funds.  Edinburgh Council is considering using the money to create a citywide "Equity and Excellence Music Service” instead, but it has been reported that Ministers will prevent money being diverted from the school, one of Scotland's six Centres of Excellence.  While local authorities are responsible for allocating financial resources on the basis of local needs and priorities, they must first fulfill statutory obligations and the jointly agreed set of national and local priorities which includes the Scottish Government’s key strategic objectives and manifesto commitments.  The City of Edinburgh Music School has helped steer dozens of gifted young musicians – alumni include Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage, international jazz saxophonist Tommy Smith and the Celtic Fusion artist Martyn Bennet, who died of cancer aged 33.  His mother has described the proposals as "shortsighted and heartbreaking", saying: "Martyn always said that his grounding at the school was what really got him on the road.  He regarded the teachers as inspiring and brilliant, and you can;t achieve that by thinning out the funding. Before he arrived at the school he was always afraid to shine, and would get teased by other pupils, but the music school allowed him to be different. There are some gloriously talented youngsters at the school."  Ms Bennet, who teaches part-time at the school, added: "It's not a school for elite or posh people. He had the sort of education I would never have been able to afford.  It's a real flagship school, something we can ll be proud of. If it were to go, we wouldn't have flagships anymore. We would be in tatters."  Tommy Smith, founder of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and a former pupil of the school, also voiced his disapproval over the council's plan.  He said: "I used to attend Broughton High School when I was 15. I would take the bus to Wester Hailes and have lessons by eminent specialists on flute, clarinet, saxophone, piano etc and meet and be inspired by all the genius players.  I practised harder because of that environment. You need to have all the talented kids together. They inspire each other to reach high goals."

Inverness Woman's NHS Phone Service Idea Could Help Save Lives

Spend on locum doctors is under the spotlight AN agonising wait for mental health support on the NHS 24 medical phone line has prompted an Inverness woman to campaign for a small change that could save lives.  Emma Roddick wants the service to add a mental health option to its telephone menu to spare desperately ill people the distress of having to answer a long list of questions before eventually, sometimes several hours later, being passed on to a psychiatric nurse.  She has launched a petition calling for mental health crises to be an option on the NHS 24 helpline. It has attracted around 2500 signatures. The 20-year-old, who was recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, said the phone line that is used by people seeking medical advice when GP surgeries are closed has let her down when she needed it the most.  “I’ve had to phone in on a few occasions, or a friend has had to phone in on my behalf, when I’ve been having a crisis and it’s been quite an experience,” said Ms Roddick, who lives in Hilton.  “They’ve made it worse by taking me through all of those irrelevant questions and say a community psychiatric nurse will ring you back within two hours, and sometimes they haven’t called me back at all.”  Currently, callers with dental problems are given a straightforward choice when they call, but people calling with psychiatric conditions must work through the full menu process and then wait until their call is processed before it is referred to a dedicated section of the health service.  Ms Roddick said: “With a borderline personality disorder crisis you can’t deal with what’s going on around you. It can be quite dangerous because there’s often an element of severe depression and agitation so you really need to speak to someone who understands what a crisis is. I’m aware there are other phone helplines but their volunteers are not medically trained, they can help with depression but in crisis situations, where you are a danger to yourself or to others, you really need a psychiatric nurse.”

Silk From Worms Could Treat Spinal Injuries, Say Scots Scientists

Modified silk from Asian wild silkworms could be used to help repair damaged spinal cords, scientists in Scotland have found. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen, supported by the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU), discovered that cleaned, sterilised silk from the Antheraea pernyi (AP) silk spinner had properties well suited to spinal repair.  There are currently around 50,000 people in the UK with a serious spinal cord injury with 1,000 new cases arising every year. The cost to the NHS to treat the damage and to help patients manage the injury and subsequent dramatic lifestyle changes is around £1billion annually.  There is currently no cure for serious spinal cord trauma, in part because spinal nerves are unable to cross the scar tissue barrier and the cavity that forms in the cord after the injury. But scientists at Aberdeen and Oxford universities believe modified silk could act as a ‘scaffold’ that bridges the spinal injury cavity, supporting nerve growth across damaged region.  The team discovered that the modified AP silk had important properties desirable in a scaffold suitable for spinal repair. It has the correct rigidity - if it is too rigid it can harm the surrounding spinal cord tissue but if it is too soft the nerves would fail to grow across it. The AP silk has a repeated “RGD” chemical sequence on its surface that binds to receptors on the nerve cells, encouraging them to attach to the material and grow along it.  Additionally, the AP silk did not trigger a response by the immune system cells that would be present in the spinal cord, therefore minimising inflammation.

Place Name of the Week: Pitlochry - Baile Chloichridh

Like many names beginning with Pit- in Scotland, the English form derives from an older form than the Gaelic. The original Gaelic form was Peit Chloichridh ‘the stead of the stoney place’; this is the form from which the English version derives.  In recent times however, Gaelic dropped the word peit in place-names and in general speech in favour of baile ‘farm’. Peit was originally borrowed from Pictish, but for some reason many loan words from that language are no longer present in Gaelic. That said, there is a Pitlochrie in Glen Isla which is on record as Peit Chloichridh in Gaelic. Cloichridh is derived from Gaelic clach ‘stone’. A letter to this newspaper in 1934 says there was a big stone below Pitlochry called Clach a’ Chruidh ‘the stone of the cattle’ where Highland drovers rested their cattle on their way to the Falkirk Tryst.

Campaign to Restore Historic Loch Lomond Paddle Steamer

She is the last paddle steamship built in the UK still afloat. Now a campaign has been launched to complete the restoration of the Maid of the Loch with the aim of seeing her sail on Loch Lomond once more.  Launched on the Clyde in 1953 at the A&J Inglis yard at Pointhouse, ‘the Maid’ was the largest inland waterway vessel ever seen in Britain.  From her home port of Balloch, the steamer sailed the length of Loch Lomond for the next 29 years. A trip on board became a favourite activity of the thousands of tourists who visited the area. But a decline in passenger numbers and various other cost pressures saw her laid up in 1981. Restoration efforts soon began and in 1992 she was bought by the local council before a charitable trust was formed to oversee the project. Now a major online fundraiser had been launched to pay for the installation of a specialised steam boiler that will power the ship’s engine. The Heritage Lottery Fund has pledged to donate £3.8 million if volunteers can raise the same amount by June 2018. “We now have only £1 million to raise to reach our target of £5.5 million to fully restore the ship and get her sailing again,” the Maid’s restoration group said in a statement.  “We are very close to raising this money, but some of the pledges that have been made depend on us installing the steam boiler now. Buying and installing this specialised boiler is pivotal to the project in levering further funding to reach our overall target.  The Maid has a genuine, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity right now to sail again - if we can raise the funds for the boiler.”  They continued: “The Maid is a magnificent example of Clyde-built ship engineering with a stunning art deco inspired interior. Our vision is to bring this cherished, UK asset back into productive public and operational use and return paddle steamer cruising to Loch Lomond, bringing pleasure and joy to millions more visitors for generations to come.  By safeguarding this vessel we wish to open up further the country’s industrial engineering heritage, to educate and increase interest and awareness of the Maid’s place within this central area of conservation in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and to create employment and training opportunities for the local economy. A successful fundraising campaign can return this beautiful steamer to the waters of Loch Lomond and to her former glory, renovating and reinstating her 1950s fittings and creating a wonderful asset for public pleasure and international interest.”

Autumn Fishing on the Tweed is Being Monitored

The autumn run of salmon on the River Tweed is once again proving disappointing and Fisheries Management Scotland is now monitoring the situation.  Fewer grilse have been seen on the Tweed this season, and according to Tweed Commissioners, this worrying trend has also been seen on many other rivers.  Summer salmon fishing has been good but fewer fish are being caught in the final months of the season, as was the case last year, and the concern now is that if the trend continues it could shorten the fishing season on the Tweed from 10 to eight months a year which would have a serious impact on the economy, particularly those providing accommodation, meals and ghillie services for the fishermen. In a statement about the low number of grilse in the Tweed and other Scottish rivers, Fisheries Management Scotland said: “This appears to be following a pattern observed in recent years, and there is some consistency, based on anecdotal reports, that a number of rivers across Scotland appear to be showing this trend.  Whilst it is difficult to attribute the current reduction in grilse numbers to any one factor, one theory which may explain the changes we are seeing is related to large scale changes in the marine environment. In recent decades, there has been an increase in surface temperatures in the NE Atlantic and there have been widespread changes in the abundance and distribution of other marine species consistent with this. There is some evidence to suggest that warmer conditions in the sub-Arctic may mean more salmon than grilse.  We will be monitoring the situation to determine how widespread this problem is and we would welcome feedback and input from members with a view to considering what management action might be appropriate and feasible in response to these reports. We will also be raising this issue with Scottish Government and associated agencies.”

Festival Smashes its £70,000 Target
With hundreds of festival-goers and businesses pledging financial support in exchange for ticket rewards and sponsorship packages, Lindisfarne Festival’s future is looking bright after reaching its £70,000 crowdfunding target, as well as a Crowdfunder world record.  As its ‘all or nothing’ crowdfunding campaign drew to a close on Tuesday, the festival revealed the first wave of acts it has lined up for the three-day music, arts and wellness festival.  Acts already geared up to perform at 2018’s festival include the newly-reformed Detroit Social Club, Bessie and the Zinc Buckets, Bombskare, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 and Hip Hop Hooray.  Now that the festival has reached its fund-raising target, the full music and comedy line-ups will be secured and announced early next year, and organiser promise they will feature some highly-anticipated headliners.  Independent, affordable and unpretentious, Lindisfarne Festival differentiates itself by offering a boutique festival experience without the expensive price-tag.

Appeal Launched to Help Borders Cancer Care Expand

A major fundraising appeal has been launched to transform Borders cancer care facility. The Give Us A Hand – Help Us Expand appeal has been set up to raise the final £100,000 needed to extend and refurbish the Borders Macmillan Centre within Borders General Hospital. The plans will see the creation of more treatment spaces to help manage increased demand and patient flow.  Patient experiences will also improve by the enhanced environment throughout the ward.  Overall the project will cost £829,000 and Macmillan Cancer Support has already generously committed £400,000.  Judith Smith, Macmillan nurse consultant and lead clinician for cancer, explained: “The extension to the Borders Macmillan Centre will make such a difference to the way we work and most importantly improve the experience for our patients by accommodating more treatment space.  The refurbishment will allow that space to be used in a more creative way, improving patient flow and preventing patient delays. It has been great to see our staff getting involved with the fundraising effort too. They have already held a massive bake sale and have more events planned in the future.”  NHS Borders charity, The Difference, is helping to raise the remainder of the funds. Over three-quarters has already been made and The Difference is launching a public fundraising appeal for the final £100,000 needed.  James Marjoribanks has been involved in a number of previous appeals for The Difference, including The Margaret Kerr Unit appeal and is now appeal president. James told us: “The Borders communities are fantastic at getting behind a good cause and I am confident that this will be the case again with the ‘give us a hand help us expand’ appeal. The specialist cancer teams already do a wonderful job; we simply aim to provide them with an environment which can meet the challenges of modern cancer care. I am delighted that there are already people signing up to help, including a number of Primary and Secondary Schools in the region.  With cancer affecting so many of us we hope many more will heed the call to 'give us a hand'.”

Cannabis to Be Grown in East Lothian for Building Materials
A field of cannabis plants will be grown in East Lothian to support a new generation of building materials that are being made in Scotland from hemp.  Edinburgh-based firm Industrial Nature is to bring a new low-carbon, sustainable building material to the market next year.  Made from industrial hemp fibres and a complex compound of minerals, IndiBloc is naturally insulating and stores heat with claims the building material can significantly reduce heating bills.  Scott Simpson, co-founder of the firm, said the field will be planted next year with production of IndiBloc due to get underway in Leith in April.  Mr Simpson said: “IndiBloc is not just a eco-material - it has some amazing performance properties.  At the moment we are getting our hemp from the north of England but we have a farmer on board in East Lothian who will grow a pilot field for us.  After the high-value fibres are removed for textiles, we take the left over materials.”  Hemp has a long tradition of industrial use. During the reign of Henry VIII, it was compulsory to grow a quarter acre of hemp for every 60 acres under cultivation.  Cultivation was outlawed in the UK in 1928 with industrial hemp made legal in 1994.  A Home Office licence will be required for the East Lothian planting.  Mr Simpson added: “The plants are the same as the cannabis sativa plant but without the bud.  You would have to smoke a telephone pole-sized joint to get high on it. It is completely legal to grow.”  Mr Simpson was first inspired to improve building materials after working in community development in Scotland.  He added: “There were a lot of people living in Dickensian accommodation. They couldn’t afford to heat these houses, they were damp and mouldy.”  His interest in low-carbon, healthy, building materials was then forged on a masters in sustainable architecture. Mr Simpson said: “The blocks insulate better that existing systems. We are essentially replacing foam insulation and concrete with an insulating block which stores heat. Ultimately, they save you money heating your home.”

Nicola Sturgeon Condemns Jailing of Ex-catalan Ministers
Nicola Sturgeon has condemned the jailing of several former Catalan ministers as Nationalist MPs called on the UK Government to urge the Spanish state to hold a Scotland-style independence vote.  A Spanish judge ordered nine ex-members of the Catalan Government to be remanded in custody while they were investigated over allegations of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds following the October 1 independence referendum.  This took place in defiance of a constitutional court ruling, which declared it illegal.  The state prosecutor has requested a European arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the ousted Catalan leader, and four other dismissed ministers, who failed to attend court in Madrid as requested.  The First Minister, responding to the Spanish court’s action, tweeted: “The disagreement about Catalonia’s future is political. It should be resolved democratically - not by the jailing of political opponents.”  She added: “Regardless of opinion on Catalonia, the jailing of elected leaders is wrong and should be condemned by all democrats.”  Last week, Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister, imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolving the regional parliament and calling local elections for December.  In the poll, 90 per cent of people voted in favour of Catalan becoming independent state on a turnout of 43 per cent. At Westminster, Scottish and Welsh Nationalist MPs called on Theresa May’s Government to urge Madrid to hold an independence referendum similar to the one held in Scotland three years ago. In an Urgent Question, called by Plaid Cymru, Welsh MP Hywel Williams urged the Conservative administration to use its influence to try to ensure progress was made in Spain.  “No one can doubt that this is eventually a political matter rather than a legal one. Getting both parties to talk is the way forward. In this situation, the UK Government have a responsibility and an opportunity,” insisted the MP for Arfon.  The SNP’s Peter Grant told MPs there was “conclusive evidence of the Spanish state sending people into demonstrations to incite violence against the police and of excessive police brutality against unarmed citizens doing nothing other than attempting to express a view”.

Russians Are Rabble Rousing for Second Scottish Independence Vote, Says US Senator
A US senator has warned that Russian cyber operatives are "setting up shop" in Scotland to bolster support for a second independence referendum.  Senator Angus King told a Washington hearing into Russian interference in last year's US presidential election that Scotland was also on the Kremlin's target list.  He told the Senate Intelligence Committee: "We know the Russians were involved in the French election. We know that they were involved in the German elections. We are now learning they were involved in the separation of Spain.  And my understanding is they've set up shop in Scotland which is talking about an independence vote from Great Britain. This is a sophisticated worldwide strategy. It hasn't stopped and it won't stop."  A senior MP yesterday demanded answers from Facebook on whether Russians were using the social network to cause discord in Scotland.  Damian Collins, the chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, said he would press the company on the matter as part of the committee's investigation into the impact of fake news on British politics.  He said: "We are interested in any political activity on Facebook in the UK which has been driven by Russian backed organisations. "We will certainly be asking Facebook about this as part of our inquiry into the power of fake news to disrupt our democracy." The warning from the US came as Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, told MPs he had seen no evidence of Russian interference in British elections or referendums so far.

‘Most Expensive Dram in the World' Confirmed to Be Fake

A Chinese author who paid £7,700 for a dram of 19th century Scotch whisky has been refunded by the Swiss hotel where it was bought after the drink was officially deemed a fake by an investigation.  The probe was launched in the summer after the customer, multi-millionaire online fantasy writer Zhang Wei paid for a dram of what was thought to be one of the world’s only known bottles of Macallan 1878 still in circulation.  But following a series of investigative and forensic tests carried out by Scottish whisky valuation service Rare Whisky 101, in conjunction with the hotel, the Waldhaus Am See in St Moritz, the whisky has been shown to date back no further than 1970, deeming it almost worthless as a collector’s item.  Sandro Bernasconi from the Hotel has flown to Asia in the last week to refund the paying customer in full.  The sale hit the headlines as the most expensive dram ever bought in July, but whisky collectors raised a number of concerns about the bottle, including the condition of the cork and alleged historical inaccuracies on the label. RW101 co-founder David Robertson said: “The Waldhaus team have done exactly the right thing by trying to authenticate this whisky. Over the past year, we have been invited by numerous bottle owners and auction houses to assess suspicious bottles. Indeed, we’ve noticed an increasing number of old, rare archive or antique bottles coming to market at auction, and it’s difficult to know how prevalent this problem is. We would implore that others in the market do what they can to identify any rogue bottles. The more intelligence we can provide, the greater the chance we have to defeat the fakers and fraudsters who seek to dupe the unsuspecting rare whisky consumer. We’re also working closely with The Macallan brand owner, Edrington, as they start to take a leadership position on fake whisky. As with any purchase, we would recommend that each buyer does their research, assesses the bottle and its packaging presentation, and where they can afford to do so, send some of the liquid for technical evaluation and/or carbon dating. If you do have a pre-1900’s bottle we suggest it’s worth extracting a sample to prove if it is genuine or not (most likely not). Even if the bottle has been opened, if you can prove the whisky was distilled pre 1900, then you have some very valuable whisky to enjoy!”  Sandro Bernasconi, Waldhaus Am See hotel manager and bar manager at the Devils Place bar where the whisky was sold, said: “When it comes to selling our customers some of the world’s rarest and oldest whiskies, we felt it was our duty to ensure that our stock is 100 per cent authentic and the real deal. That’s why we called in RW101. The result has been a big shock to the system, and we are delighted to have repaid our customer in full as a gesture of goodwill.”  Ken Grier, spokesman for The Macallan brand owner, Edrington, said: “As the leading brand in the fast growing secondary market for rare whiskies, with an estimated 30 per cent share by value, we take this very seriously. We praise the work that our partners, RW101, are doing to bring awareness of any fraud to light. We would urge consumers to buy from reputable sources at all times.”  A sample of the Macallan 1878 was subsequently collected by the team at RW101, and flown back to the UK for a series of forensic tests and analysis to determine, as best as modern science allows, the precise composition of the liquid, including carbon dating at the University of Oxford to verify the year of distillation.  Results from University of Oxford’s Research Laboratory for Archaeology and The History of Art suggested a 95 per cent probability that the liquid was created between 1970 and 1972. Subsequent laboratory tests carried out by Tatlock and Thomson (providers of scientific services to the wine and spirits industry) showed the spirit was most likely a blended scotch comprised of 60 per cent Malt and 40 per cent Grain.

Comment -R
A 30 year old Macallan is undoubtedly very good, but so is a 12 year old. This kind of trade in rare whiskies is more fantasy than substance - there is no special quality that is worth paying silly money for, except the desire to display excessive wealth ostentatiously and in a vulgar fashion.

Outlander Cast and Crew to Film in Perthshire

Outlander cast and crew will arrive in Perthshire this week to film scenes for season four of the time travelling fantasy. Filming will start in the Crieff area on Wednesday.  Filming on Scottish scenes for season four got underway earlier this month with lead actors Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe taking part in a night shoot.  A graveyard at Polmont served as one location, it is understood.  Residents of Crieff have been informed that the Market Park car park will be out of use to the public from Wednesday to Friday as the film crews roll in. Drummond Castle Gardens near Crieff was used as a location in season two of the time travelling fantasy when it replicated the grounds of the Palace of Versailles.  Heughan announced his return to Scotland for filming earlier this month on Twitter. Historic properties across Scotland have reported a surged in visitors after being used as locations in the show.  Blackness Castle, which was used as a stand in for Fort William, recorded a 72% increase in visitors for the period April 1 to June 2 2017.  The “Outlander effect” was also enjoyed at Doune Castle, famed for its role as the fictional Castle Leoch, recorded an impressive 50% increase for the same period.  A release date for season four of the hugely successful show has yet to be officially announced.

Electric Train Completes Full Edinburgh-Glasgow Route for First Time

The new electric trains which will serve central Scotland took a step closer to completion after a successful testing of the full route on the Edinburgh to Glasgow mainline. ScotRail Alliance tested one of the new Hitachi Class 385 electric trains as it travelled between Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street at 12.30am on Wednesday morning. The 46 miles of the newly electrified railway between Edinburgh and Glasgow went ‘live’ for testing and safety checks on 2 September and it was followed by a successful trial of the infrastructure between Edinburgh and Linlithgow last month. Ian McConnell, ScotRail Alliance Programmes and Transformation director, said: “This morning’s trial was a massive step towards the introduction of electric passenger trains on the newly electrified Edinburgh to Glasgow mainline. Having a train run successfully along the full route shows real progress. We are building the best railway that Scotland has ever had. When our brand new, state of the art, electric fleet enter service, customers will reap immense benefits. With more seats and faster journeys on cleaner, greener trains, the new trains will completely transform travel between our two biggest cities, and across the Central Belt.”  Testing will continue on both the trains and infrastructure along the route for several weeks, with the 385s eventually rolled out on a number of routes, including Edinburgh – North Berwick, South Glasgow suburban routes - Cathcart Circle/Neilston/Lanark and Glasgow/Edinburgh – Dunblane/Stirling/Alloa. Andy Radford, Hitachi Rail Europe Programme manager, said: “We are really pleased that our new trains can now be tested on the newly electrified Edinburgh to Glasgow routes. We will continue to work closely with the ScotRail Alliance to ensure the trains deliver the benefits to future passengers as soon as possible.”

Clyde Shipbuilding Blow As Royal Navy Could Take Business Abroad

It was confirmed by Defence Minister Harriet Baldwin that the job of building the ships would be subject to open tender, giving British shipyards, including the Clyde further competition.  There was hope among unions that they would be built solely in the UK which would benefit the Clyde thorough their nous of building complex warships, The likes of Scotstoun and Govan will likely face more competition if the decision is taken to hand the contracts overseas, which could lead to questions marks around their future after 2020. Unions have criticised the decision by the government, pointing out that it is a missed opportunity for shipbuilding in the UK.  Jude Brimble, GMB National Secretary, said: “The RFA contracts are the key to unlocking the country’s massive shipbuilding potential and transforming the fortunes of our shipbuilding communities. But Ministers’ refusal to put the UK’s interests first will mean that instead of a massive programme of shared economic and employment re-distribution, our shipbuilding firms will be competing against each other for slivers of complex warship work.  The RFA vessels will support and serve our Royal Navy and we have the capacity and skills base to deliver their manufacture, while generating hundreds of millions of pounds worth of wages for the UK economy. It beggars belief that the Government wants to give this golden opportunity away to foreign competitors when working class communities up and down the country are crying out for decent work.” Chris Stephens, SNP MP for Southwest Glasgow added: “The answer from the UK Westminster Government exposes the illogical steps being taken under its National Shipbuilding Strategy From breaking promises to the workers on the Clyde that guaranteed work is being taken away from them, to the idiocy of sending work abroad.”