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Maura Stories and Symbols

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

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 Blamire in 2021, 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 reflected a women's led business, that would be great too. Of course, what Hope created for us far exceeded our expectations. We were thrilled 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 than St. Margaret of Scotland (top left). Mother of three kings, Margaret was revered across Scotland and was known for her charitable works. St. Margaret represents Scotland’s great women Saints, including our St. Maura, for whom our gin is named, who lived on Isle of Cumbrae in the 6th Century. A disciple of St. Columba, Maura and her fellow devotee 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 control 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, removing their boots and creeping silently across the fields. Do 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, 1792 - 1864, was Scotland’s pioneering female ship captain. With the death of her brother and a bed-ridden father, she took over the family shipping business, sailing between Saltcoats and Ireland for 3 decades. The Waverley: Celebrating her 75th anniversary in 2022, the Waverley is the world’s only remaining sea-going paddle steamer and regularly sails the Clyde, visiting Largs and the islands of Arran, Bute and Cumbrae. Symbols of Scotland: The Celtic Cross, Standing Stones, 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 orchid that can be found on Isle of Cumbrae. In front of the lighthouse is one of our most important Millport symbols, Crocodile Rock. Painted annually since 1908, a visit to Millport would not be complete without a picture on top of 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 coastal animals are working overtime to gather our juniper berries: the hedgehog, the sea otter, the rabbit and the seal (who you can hear barking on the Eileans, just off Millport’s Newton Beach). The dolphin at the far left is Kylie the dolphin, a solitary dolphin based between Fairlie and Cumbrae, who is notably understood to be the only recorded dolphin able to speak porpoise! And who is that in the rowboat? Well, 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.

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