Scran season 7: Whisky witches, lotions and potions - a Halloween special

The latest episode of our podcast, Scran, is now live.

Published 20th Oct 2023
Updated 20 th Oct 2023

On this episode of Scran we're fully embracing this time of year (and Halloween) and investigating some of the more macabre elements of Scottish food and drink history.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to attend Whisky & Witches Presents Mythical Beasts, an immersive, mystical, musical whisky tasting produced and presented by Christine Kammerer and Jane Ross.

The show touched on the history of women and whisky in Scotland and explained how women who distilled whisky were turned upon by the church and society.

These alewives and brewsters were often framed as what we would now recognise as witches.

Singer and composer Christine and whisky aficionado Jane who runs The Mother Superior in Leith, join me to talk all about how women became vilified for distilling and how even today there are challenges around being a woman in the whisky industry.

Connotations of witchcraft and herbalism have gone hand in hand for centuries, and delving into the ancient art of herbology is a great way to explore some natural magic in the run up to Halloween.

On the second half of the podcast I chat to Catherine Conway-Payne, author of Herbology- A Psychic Garden Pharmacy, a book being published by The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in the coming weeks, which includes an illustrated guide that brings herbology to life.

Scran Halloween

Catherine takes us back to a time when insects, frog spawn and basically all sorts was used in medicine and self care.

She tells me all about how, even now, some of the remedies and uses from the past can be found in modern products such as snail slime in beauty products.

She also shares some of the lessons to be learnt from the book including some brilliant uses for cleavers, more commonly known as sticky willy.

Scran season 7: Adding Italian flair to Christmas and supporting The Big Issue

Listen to the episode in full

Get in touch

We’d love to hear from you for the next season’s episodes.

If you have an opinion about anything we discuss, get in touch with your comments. Drop us a message on the Scotsman Food and Drink Facebook page, or contact me on Twitter @RosalindErskine or via email using

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Bonus Scran: The Borders Distillery - breathing life after 200 years

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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