Sampling the dark arts in a gem of a seaside town - Susan Morrison

Kirkcudbright is one of those places in Scotland I was aware of but had never actually been to. We changed that last week. It’s a lovely little place, but possibly not the place for high-octane clubbing, although I’m not sure that even young folks do that anymore.
Staff at the Dark Art Distillery in Kirkcudbright with ‘Peggy’ the stillStaff at the Dark Art Distillery in Kirkcudbright with ‘Peggy’ the still
Staff at the Dark Art Distillery in Kirkcudbright with ‘Peggy’ the still

Two young ladies I was speaking to last week told me that “raving” was what oldies did. She meant people in their thirties. She and her pals tended to buy booze and sit on the couch and watch a live-stream of a club in London, which she said, was “just ‘like being there”.

“Why don’t you actually go?”, I asked. “And get out of our jammies?” She retorted.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Come to think of it, then, Kirkcudbright might just be the hottest ticket in town for the twenties crowd.

I have a massive soft spot for Scotland’s little seaside towns. There’s always that giddy moment when you realise you can park just about anywhere, and it’s either free, or so cheap you find yourself giggling at the ticket machine. Two pounds for a whole day. I know! I could hardly believe it. The day before we went I parked for three hours in Tollcross and I thought I’d have to pawn my wedding ring.

Independent shops still survive there, although weirdly they all sell very expensive soap and more expensive scarves. I swear I saw hand-poured candles in the butchers, possibly using artisan lard.

There’s always a local museum with a mildly deranged and incredibly knowledgeable curator who usually can’t believe her luck when a similarly deranged and less knowledgeable visitor appears to ask questions about the item third from the left in Case Number 2. Looking at you, Isla. That’s my idea of clubbing these days.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Kirkcudbright was once known as the Artists Town. The Glasgow Boys and Girls went mad for the light and descended on the place to chuck watercolours about with artistic abandon. Now, I’m not much of a one for a blurry painting of a puddle, but what I do like is gin, which occasionally gives me the same vision as a dreamy-eyed Impressionist, and so you can imagine my joy when I spotted a gin distillery, which offered tours and tastings.

Oh, said the Yorkshire husband, it might not be open, on account of it being out of season. Well, at least I think that’s what he said, I couldn’t hear him. The minute I saw a half open door I was in there like a Tory after a company directorship.

Dark Art Distillery was indeed open, and if you are in that part of the world, drop in and spend some time with Kelvin who will take you on a tour and introduce you to “Peggy” the still, the heart of the distillery. Well, that’s my mum’s name, and so I thought it rude to refuse when Kelvin offered a wee dram of Peggy’s finest output.

Let me tell you, Dark Art Distillery does not hold back when it comes to dishing out the samples. By the end of the afternoon, I was feeling more than a little artistic myself and reeled my way around some of those cute shops, which is probably why I now have a cupboard full of very nice soaps and some extremely expensive scarves. And quite a lot of gin.