On Location: Abhainn Dearg

On Location: Abhainn Dearg

Red River Distillery in Scotland

​Though I've never been a big drinker, and less so after I reached 50, and then 60, I still do enjoy a well crafted beer, a nice glass of wine and even the occasional "wee dram" of good whiskey. The latter potable goes down especially well when it's blowing a gale outside the cottage and there's a fire on the hearth. That's why it's rather handy having a very local distillery on the Isle of Lewis, just two miles up the track from our Scottish production location.  

Unless you speak Gaelic you probably don't know that Abhainn Dearg means Red River. But forget the John Wayne movie. This Red River is an actual waterway, small but effective in draining the pristine catchment of Loch Raonasgail to the sea and providing a route for a lovely bunch of local salmon and sea trout to head up river every year and eventually do their thing come spawning time. And it's this pure, sweet water coursing down the Red River that inspired whiskey maker Mark Tayburn to build beside it the first "legal" distillery in the Outer Hebrides in over a century. I emphasize the word "legal."

It went without saying that on our last production trip to the Outer Hebrides we had to visit and film at Abhainn Dearg Distillery. There's more to Food Over 50 than just food after all! What we drink impacts our health too. Except for the camera gear we pretty much could have walked, but we're from semi-arid Southern California and we melt in the rain. Thus we drove.

water source for the Red River Distillery in Scotland

​Now you might expect that a few stealthy Californians with local knowledge of the Outer Hebrides should be safe from our fellow Americans in the back of beyond, but no. While we shot stills and video footage of the surroundings and distilling processes at Red River, no less than four groups of tourists belched forth from their mini buses. We overheard them and two of the groups were Yanks from Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa and God help us Southern California! For the three hours that my director and I pondered shots and rolled cameras we worked mute in the presence of the onslaught, avoiding them wherever possible and only speaking in whispers when completely necessary. If you think that was a little reactionary, I recommend you try filming a segment for a national Public Television series in another country, under time restraints, and let it be known you hail from the same patch as the tourists! I'm embarrassed to say it, but at one point an underdressed L.A. millennial in a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops, despite the cool, rainy weather, approached me and asked who we were and what we were shooting? I quickly broke out my trusty Swedish accent, learned decades ago from my immigrant grandparents and introduced myself as Sven Nordstrom - no relation to the department stores and no relation to reality either. It was naughty of me, but we were pressed for time and needed to finish the shoot. I only fear that Mr. Flip Flops might spot me on any one of the three Los Angeles PBS stations that currently air Food Over 50. If he does he'll spot the fraud. Sven Nordstrom is fake news!

Our segment from Abhainn Dearg Distillery didn't quite make it into the final edit of any of the episodes in our first series of Food Over 50, but we're sure to share it in a future episode, or online, here at www.FoodOver50.com. Keep an eye out for it!