Now that many of you have the beautiful Maura gin bottle in hand, we know you are dying to know about all the amazing stories and symbols Hope Blamire created in the beautiful Maura label.
With the impetus for the label to celebrate Visit Scotland’s themed year of stories, we first sat down with Hope almost a year ago, with a very long list of ideas, from Saints and Vikings to ships captains and smugglers, from local landmarks and national symbols to flowers, birds and animals of the West Coast. And yes, if she would include something that would reflect a women's led business, that would be great too. Of course, what Hope created for us far exceeded our expectations. How thrilled were we to be presented with the history of the West Coast of Scotland, with women at the heart of the piece.
There were many great female Saints in Scotland, none more important that St. Margaret of Scotland (top left). Mother of three kings of Scotland, Margaret was highly revered across Scotland and was known for her charitable works. St. Margaret represents Scotland’s great women Saints, including our St. Maura, for whom the gin is named, who lived on the island of Cumbrae in the 6th Century. A disciple of St. Columba, she and her fellow devotee St. Beya, who lived in isolation on wee Cumbrae, influenced the growth of Christianity across Western Scotland. The Vikings (Centre). Cumbrae and many parts of Western Scotland were under Viking rule from the 8th to 11th Century, returning to Scottish rule with the battle of Largs in 1263. Legend has it that the thistle of Scotland became the national symbol after the Vikings tried to surprise the Largs based Scots in their sleep and took off their boots to creep silently across the fields. But you know what happens when a Viking steps on a thistle? Yes, he emits a GREAT cry…and rouses his enemy…who vanquish him! The ship The Clytus. Captain Betsy Miller lived from 1792 to 1864 and was Scotland’s first female ship captain who sailed out of Saltcoats. The Waverley. Celebrating her 75th anniversary in 2022, The Waverley is the world’s only remaining sea going paddle steamer. Those who live on Scotland’s West Coast are fortunate to see her regularly sail down the Clyde, visiting Largs and the islands of Arran, Bute and Cumbrae. Symbols of Scotland: The Celtic Cross, Standing Stones (next time you are visiting Cumbrae, make sure to look for our only remaining standing stone in Gouklan Woods), the Scottish thistle, the Saltire in the upper clouds; the lower clouds are made of gin botanicals, the white rose of Scotland and Scotland’s other national flower, the bluebell. The lighthouse represents the lighthouse history of Scotland, including an important part of Millport’s history, the lighthouse on Wee Cumbrae, which was built by Robert Stevenson (R. L Stevenson’s Grandfather). Behind the lighthouse is a very rare purple iris that can be found on the Isle of Cumbrae. In front the lighthouse is one of our most important Millport symbols, the Crocodile Rock. Painted annually since 1908, a visit to Millport would not be complete without a picture on top of the Crocodile Rock (followed by a bottle of our Croc Rock gin, of course!) Some of our fabulous coastal birds, the heron and the oyster catcher, and of course some of our fabulous coastal animals, who are working overtime here to gather our juniper berries: the hedgehog, the sea otter, the seal (who you can hear barking on the eileans, just off Millport’s Newton Beach) and the rabbit. The dolphin off to the left of the picture is Kylie the dolphin, a solitary dolphin based between Fairlie and Cumbrae, who is notably known to be the only recorded dolphin able to speak porpoise! And who is that in the rowboat? We’ll that’s us, of course, modern day smugglers going to collect from our still and from the sea of gin. And finally, at the front of the label we have a message in a bottle, a memorial tribute to Scotland’s women, who helped shape its history, legends and stories of the sea.