Arran magic

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Where can you find the perfect malt whisky, mouthwatering handmade chocolates and stunning scenery?  The Isle of Arran of course!  The Geraldo’s team had a fabulous and truly informative day out this week to one of Scotland’s most magical islands and what a day it was!

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The Isle of Arran Distillery

After a breezy trip on the ferry, Senior Brand Manager, Louisa Young, accompanied the team to the newly refurbished distillery in Lochranza.  Nestled below the mountains, the distillery is in the ideal location to produce the perfect malt; where the pure water flows into nearby Loch na Davie.  Combine this with Arran’s warm micro-climate, high quality barley and yeast, expertly picked oak casks and patience – up to 18 years of patience – while the wondrous character of the whisky matures.  But as Master Craftsman, James MacTaggart says, “There is no point having good ingredients if you don’t have good people to make it.”  The passion and knowledge that James, Louisa and all of the staff at the distillery have about their whisky is inspiring and it tastes fabulous too. Tours are starting again on Monday, 27th Feb 2017 and definitely worth taking the trip over there to see it. 

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The Arran Chocolate Factory

We all had a warm glow (could’ve been the whisky) as we travelled back to Brodick; spotting golden eagles, deer and seals en route.  The magic continued as we were welcomed by owner James McLehry, and his senior chocolatier Jan, at The Arran Chocolate Factory.  The sweet aroma hits you as soon as you enter the shop.  Jan, who has been making chocolate there for 15 years, gave us a fabulous demonstration on making Easter eggs and some of their delicious hand-crafted treats.  We also got a sneaky peek at some of her wonderful Easter creations.  Watch this space as these little ducklings are sure to nip over the water to Geraldo’s of Largs soon!

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A huge thank you to The Arran Distillery and The Arran Chocolate Factory for hosting our visit.  We all came home much more knowledgeable and enthused about Arran’s warming malts, delicious chocolates and wonderful people.

The Arran Whisky range and James of Arran Chocolates are stocked in Geraldo’s of Largs.  Pop in to find out more from one of our team members.  They’ll have lots to tell you!

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Taste sensations

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Have you tried some of our Scottish fruit-infused liqueurs, our mouthwatering coconut macaroon or our heavenly homemade tablet? If not, well now is your chance. Come and sample them all at one of our Sugar & Spice stalls this Sunday. We are covering both the North and South of Ayrshire with Toni at Ballantrae Food Festival and Louise at Kip Food Market.

Fruit-infused liqueurs

Our range of fruit-infused liqueurs are made by husband and wife team, Robin and Derry Ford, on their farm in East Lothian. With a choice of two gins, whisky, rum and vodka liqueurs, infused with locally grown fruit, there is something for everyone. Have them on their own over ice, or mix them with some prosecco to make that perfect homemade cocktail.

We will also be selling Gordon and Durward’s coconut macaroon bars. Handmade in their shop in Crieff, these traditional scottish sweets have vanilla, raspberry, mint or iron bru centres, coated in dark chocolate and rolled in toasted coconut. Or perhaps you prefer tablet? Cameron Confections ‘Great Taste’ award-winning homemade tablet will melt in your mouth and is sure to leave you wanting more.

If you can’t make it to Ballantrae or Kip Marina this Sunday, come along to one of our upcoming events. Keep an eye on our facebook page for more details!

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How are you celebrating Robert Burns night on 25th Jan?

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With less than a week to go you don’t have to be Scottish to celebrate the life and works of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, on the 25th of January.  Why not invite friends and family over for a Burns Night party? Include a mix of traditional dishes such as cock-a-leekie soup and spiced haggis, neeps and tatties followed by clootie dumpling or crannachan for dessert washed down with a small glass of warming malt whisky. And don’t forget some shortbread or Scottish tablet to nibble on whilst you all recite your favourite Burns poems.

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Here at Sugar & Spice we have a selection of whiskies and Scottish produce to help you add that all-important finishing touch to your supper table.  Our Burns Supper recommendations are as follows:-

Robert Burns Single Malt
This is the official Isle of Arran Distillery Single Malt endorsed by The Robert Burns World Federation. Made from 70% Bourbon Casks and 30% Sherry Casks, this light aromatic Single Malt is ideal for drinking with your haggis.

Robert Burns Malt

Walkers Shortbread 
With a vast range to choose from, our favourite as a ‘gift tae gie’ to your host or to your guests ‘tae go’ is their classic Keepsake Tin of four of their most popular mini shortbread varieties.

Keepsake Tin

Arran Handmade Chocolates
Keeping with an Ayrshire theme doesn’t everyone love some chocolates with their coffee after dinner? The Arran Chocolate Factory produce chocolates for Arran and chocolates for us.  If you haven’t tried them already we have 12 to choose from, all hand picked and boxed while you wait.

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If you’re still stuck for ideas on holding your own Burns Supper then download this handy eBook for all you need to know.  All that’s left to do is have fun and enjoy!

Slainte!

Where will YOU do your Christmas shopping this year?

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Glasgow? Braehead? Silverburn or even online? Many of us will, but have you considered the impact this makes on your local community? Most of us don’t, unfortunately, which is why I’ve really got behind Small Business Saturday UK this year.

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Now in its 3rd year, independent business owners up and down the country are making some noise about this forthcoming Saturday, the first in December, which traditionally kicks off the Christmas shopping spend in the UK.

How much are YOU planning to spend on Christmas this year? As an independent retailer myself for 15 years none of us are asking you to shift your entire Christmas spend to your local high street (we can only dream) but, are you aware of the impact just 10% of your Christmas spend would have on your local community? No, well may I share some statistics with you:

53% of consumers mistakenly think shopping from an independent retailer will be more expensive.

20% of all retail will be bought online by 2020.

Average weekly UK retail spend in Dec 2013 was £8.8 billion.

£1 spent online = 5p circulates locally
£1 spent locally = 50-70p circulates back into your local community which means:

less seasonal, more permanent jobs; lower child care costs as parents don’t have to travel out of town for work; vibrant town centre; improved local amenities; availability of innovative products and services that’s not just another clone town; unique individuality; support for local causes and events and long term sustainability…the list goes on. Eat your heart out Mary Portas!

Largs is now a BID town which means its independent business owners have come together as a recognised Business Improvement District to strengthen, improve and promote what we offer as a unique place to shop, stay or visit. Councils all over the UK are encouraging this process to put control of our town centres back into the hands of the people who best know how to run them – the business owners!

As vice-chair of Largs BID (Explore Largs) I ask all of you wherever you live to consider where you will shop this Christmas AND beyond.

Support your community and yourselves by supporting your local independent businesses.

Think: #ShopLocal and #ShopInLargs

Merry Christmas to you all on behalf of all the independent business owners in Largs

Toni x

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The Waverley Paddle Steamer

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Paddle Steamer Waverley

Our day on board, sailing from Largs to Arran, 4th July 2013:-

Apparently, the 4th of July is British Independents’ Retail Day (support your independents and buy local).  Sooooo, I decided to exert my independence and take the afternoon off!!  After 13 years of being in business in Largs, and situated just a stone’s throw from the ferry terminal, I can now say I’ve taken my first trip on the beautiful Waverley Paddle Steamer.  Along with my over-excited nephew, Logan, and with his SuperGran in tow, we boarded the ship and set sail at 1315hrs.  With the sun on our faces and a brisk breeze to blow away the cobwebs we headed to Arran via a brief stopover in Millport.  The ship is beautifully preserved and in immaculate condition and Logan was mesmerised at the engine room although it’s a tiny bit disconcerting being at arms length from all that power with only a handrail between you and those enormous pistons.

What was even more exciting was that it was Day 6 of the Fife Regatta as the stunning Kentra powered past us with Cumbrae as a very scenic backdrop.  It truly was a site to see with all those beautiful yachts taking part in the Fast and Fyne race from Portavadie to Largs.

A short stopover in Brodick allowed us some time for lunch, a browse round the gift shops and a quick visit to collect a top-up of fresh chocolates from the Arran Chocolate Factory.  James wished us well for our homeward journey and after 3 attempts at berthing, due to high winds, passengers boarded for the Waverley’s return trip to Largs, arriving at the slightly later time of 1900hrs.

And where did many of them head?  Straight to my shop, of course!!  Logan spent the entire afternoon telling everyone on board that Sugar & Spice is the only place in town where you can buy Stewart’s new shortbread tin beautifully embossed with guess what – The Waverley Paddle Steamer of course!!!

My Dad always said, “You have to start them young!” 🙂