Whisky and Tweed Blended

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Two of Scotland’s iconic brands – Johnnie Walker Black Label and Harris Tweed Hebrides – have collaborated to create a “fabric of flavour”.

Launched in Berlin this week the newest Harris Tweed design reflects the colours of whisky ingredients and the fabric carries a unique scent – named Aqua Alba – based on the key notes of the liquid.

Donald Mackay, who heads the finishing department at the Harris Tweed Hebrides mill in Shawbost, Isle of Lewis, said: “I have worked with aromas in the past but they were only meant to withstand one dry clean.

“The process we have devised for Johnnie Walker means that this scent is layered into the fabric throughout the finishing process and is permanently imbued in the tweed”.

The tweed was created after months of development work involving Heriot Watt University.

Jim McVee, business development manager at the university’s Textiles and Design, said: “Smart textiles are a fast-developing sector that offers enormous potential.

“Our brief was to assist Harris Tweed Hebrides with the development of a tweed for Johnnie Walker that incorporates a micro-encapsulated fragrance.

“Fabric technologists in Galashiels developed the prototypes which will enable Harris Tweed Hebrides to offer products using this technology in future”.

Mark Hogarth, creative director for Harris Tweed Hebrides, said that the idea stemmed from a shared recognition that premium Scotch Whisky and Harris Tweed have much in common “in terms of heritage, complexity of the process and pioneering quality of finished blends.”

A range of products using the Johnnie Walker Harris Tweed will be marketed around Europe with Germany, Greece and Belgium as the initial markets. They have been created by the Milan-based designer, Angelos Bratis.

The managing director of Johnnie Walker Western Europe, Oscar Ocana said: “Bratis’s work celebrates the craftsmanship, premium quality and blending expertise that Johnnie Walker and Harris Tweed are built upon”.

The chairman of Harris Tweed Hebrides, former UK Trade Minister, Brian Wilson, will be in Berlin for the launch.

He said: “This is a very natural partnership of two great Scottish brands with input from one of our cutting-edge academic centres. The more of these partnerships we can promote, the better for the Scottish economy.

“The early indications are that the finished products are creating a high level of interest in the target markets”.