I’ve had a delightful two days. After late nights and early mornings listening to the news, it was with some relief that I went to meet three Frenchmen who were over visiting the Isle of Harris Distillery. They were making a short film including a bit of cocktail mixing en plein air, which involved a walk out onto the machair meadow with a little table, a bag of bottles, glasses, spoons and a handful of herbs. The flowers were still blooming, the turquoise sea formed the backdrop and Ceapabhal hill rose rather majestically in the background – it is a glorious spot. I met them the evening before the shoot and showed them a few of the things I’ve been working on. We tasted, chatted and then the photographer asked if he could take some photos of me talking with Max the mixologist.Read More
A few months ago I had a meeting, it was very interesting. As is my way I arrived with a rucksack of bottles and various twigs, leaves, resins and petals. I always find meetings go well when I surround myself with the tools of my trade, they somehow offer an explanation of what I do far better than a document or even a verbal description. I lay them out on the table and as I start to talk, picking each up in turn, I feel the connection, as if I am a bridge between the client and the landscape. Without them, I feel hopelessly lost.Read More
I’m having a moment. I’m looking at the weather forecast in Lewes, East Sussex today and its 26C meanwhile here on Harris it’s a cool 13C. Thus far this Summer on this beautiful island, I’ve taken my vest off twice, immersed myself, in frankly icy water, twice and broken out my sandals three times. Last night I lit the fire and today I’m itching to light it again. This is a tale of two parts, south coast and far north, warm and chilly, over populated and scarcely inhabited.Read More
Once a year in June, when our Roses are in full bloom, I throw open the doors of the barn and welcome in the intrepid group of people who want to experience the absolute joy of wild perfumery. It's a day of immersion in scent, an invitation to try out the way I work myself and it’s utterly liberating.
“I found three things: a silver mirror, a silk handkerchief, and a glass flask of ointment. These items will help you on your journey, use them when need be. If you ever lose faith in yourself, the mirror will show your inner beauty. In case your reputation is stained, the handkerchief will remind you of how pure your heart is. As for the balm, it will heal your wounds, both inside and outside.” Elif Shafak 40 Rules of Love.
Our shop has been open for almost a year and it seems a good moment to reflect on what we have learned and where we are heading, what drives us forward and what obstacles have threatened to trip us up. Those moments when I’ve needed the mirror, the handkerchief and definitely the balm.Read More
Autumn is here. My nightly need for fresh air with windows flung open, suddenly tempered by the realisation last night that I was not cool but cold. It’s curious the small cues that mark the seasonal change long before the leaves are turning and the plants begin their full on retreat back into the earth for a season or two of hibernation and regeneration. It starts with the air. A change in the scent and an almost perceptible thickening of its texture so apparent at dawn.Read More
Communal beauty rituals are something women have performed for centuries. The shared actions of cleansing, washing, grooming and nourishing served a deeper need than vanity or personal hygiene, they were a natural vehicle for intimacy, they helped women bond with one another, improved well being and strengthened and facilitated familial and community relationships.Read More
We like to think of our aromatic waters as ‘the perfect plant elixir’, and for good reason. The therapeutic and beauty benefits of these wonderful aromatics are manifold, they are powerfully healing, yet gentle enough to use on the most sensitive skin. Using them is a sensual delight.
A.S.APOTHECARY flower waters are special. They are a world apart from commercial equivalents because we distil using time honoured methods, and we are fastidious about ingredients and quality. As an artisanal distillery our processes differ hugely from large commercial distilleries, whose focus is on profit and quantity, over quality and purity.
It’s 5.45am. I’m sitting in a little wooden hut looking out at a dawn breaking over miles of pristine golden sand with only the sound of the sea gently lapping at the shore. The cabin is basic but ideal for a couple of nights break at the end of a week of constant picking and distilling with my sister. It is my guilty pleasure. It is as far as one can travel on this island and one of the last places to remain truly unspoilt. Donkeys with extra big ears mosey along, birds chirrup joyfully, there is no traffic, no noise beyond the natural and, at this magical time of year, an abundance of endemic cyclamen strongly scented of honey and lily of the valley and wild flowers as far as the eye can see. Tourists have yet to arrive, the sea being cold and the temperature only around 22C. I love it. It makes me feel free.Read More
We think about new products for months before we start making – we don’t believe in producing for the sake of it nor to create an unnecessary need. As women we have enough product bombardment to cover every crease, patch and line of our bodies – in contrast we are about simplifying, creating rituals that require a few key products that can perform several different functions. We harness the pure power of plants.Read More
One of our wonderful resident therapists, green beauty and make-up expert Ellie Gill is passionate about a holistic approach to skincare and beauty. Here she shares her secrets and explains how you can create your own custom made make-up at home by combining it with A.S APOTHECARY products.Read More
I’ve been reading a lot of commentaries recently on flower waters and how fantastic they are for the skin. Many beauty bloggers advocate their use and rightly so, a great flower water is a magical ingredient. They are used by themselves as spritzers, toners and subtle perfumes and added to food and drinks for unusual and interesting flavours. They are also incorporated into any number of mists and cosmetics as significant ingredients. However, as an artisanal distiller I wanted to write a little about some of the differences between flower waters because they are certainly not all equal and many are not quite what they seem.Read More
We have completed our first week at the shop. It has been great. And what a journey.
From pencil sketches on the back of envelopes to work out storage with Catherine Cridland, deciding on what kind of oak for shelving and how to hang it without any visible fixings (huge metal pins and resin for your information) the hunt for the perfect chair with my sister, bashing up flowers to get pigments so that any colour applied in the shop would directly link back to our plants followed by the utterly joyful commissioning of pieces to use in the space.Read More
At Asapoth, we love photography - we feel that unlike any other medium, through photographs we can invite you into the heart of our world. I asked Katie Vandyck, an excellent photographer and friend to write a little about her inspiration...Read More
"Last week I was sent a plain, black box wrapped in tissue- just for me, all for myself. Inside were simple, perfectly placed vials and objects, a kit to cleanse and replenish my tired skin. I'd won the prize from A.S APOTHECARY, for my honest but sad response that I deserved to win because I did not own one skincare item.Read More
From this month, the journal is changing, I'll still be writing once a month but friends and specialists are also coming on board to offer their thoughts and opinions - A.S APOTHECARY is evolving and we are delighted to bring together cooks, photographers, writers, perfumers, naturalists, beauty specialists and garden designers all of whom have a special connection with the land and something interesting to say - it's time to express ourselves!Read More
I’ve been musing on the business of business for a while now, the way we conduct it, what we value, what we want to achieve and who helps us along the way. I’ve thought about it in relation to our methods and ethos and spent long evenings working out what I think is important for A.S APOTHECARY not just in terms of products but also how we work.Read More
I’ve written before about Harris, about the landscape, the sea and the Machair, the rock formations and the sandy beaches white and utterly inviting. I’ve talked about picking Thyme, Meadowsweet, Heather and other aromatics hardy, tough and full of aromatic intensity but I haven’t yet introduced the products that I make with them.Read More
Liz Knight who runs Forage Fine Foods, has been kind enough to volunteer her delicious recipes since the start of the AS.AP website. We are now going to include them as Forager's Notes each month to reflect the ethos of Liz who produces beautiful food from the countryside around her Herefordshire home - welcome to the team Liz and over to you...
With the advent of summer heat, comes the desire for a really good, cooling sorbet and it was with particular delight that I found that Emma Knight of Fine Forage Foods has a really good recipe, rich with honeysuckle deliciousness and the aromatic balsamic peppery taste of Tarragon.Read More