Firms unveil whisky-flavoured tweed fabric

Whisky FabricIT really is a dram fine tweed. For two of Scotland’s iconic brands – Johnnie Walker Black Label and Harris Tweed Hebrides – have collaborated to create a “fabric of flavour”, with the aroma of whisky ingredients able to withstand dry cleaning infused in the cloth.

The tweed, which will be launched in Berlin tonight, is said to have key notes of “rich malt, golden vanilla, red fruit and the trademark dark chocolate tones.”

Months of development work – undertaken with the help of Heriot Watt University – have resulted in a Harris Tweed design which reflects the colours of the whisky ingredients while the fabric carries a unique scent – named Aqua Alba – based on the “key notes of the nose 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”.

Jim McVee, business development manager at Heriot Watt’s School of 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 provenance, complexity of the process and quality of finished blend”.

A range of products using Johnnie Walker Harris Tweed and the scent 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 tonight’s 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”.

And the aroma? According to Johnnie Walker: “The unique scent, inspired by the nose of our liquid, echoes the masterful whisky production process. The key notes of rich malt, golden vanilla, red fruit and the trademark dark chocolate tones have been layered onto the fabric to achieve the unique final nose and finish of the Johnnie Walker Fabric of Flavour”.

Harris Tweed Hebrides is the biggest maker of the Clo Mhor – meaning ‘big cloth’ in Gaelic – whose devotees include former Dr Who Matt Smith, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow.

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