We love working with small makers across the UK, who understand the desire to be outdoors and who understand how that experience marshals the spirit, by captivating the senses.
We bought a few of Ali Mac’s candles on our last visit to Coigach, spying them in the corner of the hotel where we were staying. It was a perfect way to bring the Highlands back to Hackney, a way to keep the memory of moors and hills alive.
There many wonderful candlemakers in London – Earl of East and Soapsmith both set up shop next door to us in Netil Market, and we'd often enjoy the exotic scents drifting across the yard, but Ali Mac's creations are nearer to our notion of home, the scent of the outdoors - heather, broom, seaspray and peat fires.
There are stories, and memories wrapped up in these candles: ‘each scent is selected not just to smell good, but to provide a sort of purpose.’
So if you take the road to Achnahaird, where Ali has set up her home, and where she goes wandering for inspiration with Scout, her dog, you have to negotiate fifteen miles of a winding single-track road through some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland. On a hot summer’s day, just wind down the window that air is like no other in the world. This is the scent of the Wee Mad Road, a fragrance of Highland Heather and Rosemary.
The Wee Mad Road, as it leads up to Stac Pollaidh
Ali set up her candle factory in her kitchen after travelling the world and tasting adventure. She moved back to her childhood home in Coigach, to team up with a friend who was opening a sustainable seafood restaurant, SALT. Her first experiments in candle making were in creating eco-friendly candles recycled from oyster shells collected from working at the restaurant.
Stac Pollaidh is named after one of the most striking peaks in Scotland a serrated sandstone outcrop that dominates the view along the Wee Mad Road. It’s well known as a climbing destination, but if you take the easier path round the back, you can get up and down in an afternoon, and enjoy a picnic lunch at the top. So her eponymous candle is inspired by an early memory, climbing Stac Pollaidh and tucking into jam sandwiches as you look north-west to the Outer Hebrides, and south-west towards Skye. She’s added a hint of raspberry and black pepper to make a quirky and homely fragrance (oh, and she promotes it a great picture of her dog, Scout, with a sandwich on his head).
Yellow Wellies combines citrus notes with juniper berry, fresh herbs with a splash of seaweed - the smell of a Scottish summer, if you'll forgive the stereotype. Tanera Mor is more for enjoying a drahm while listening to the sound of rain on the window. Oakwood and Tobacco, the smoky scent of fireside and wooden floors. We have one of our customers to thank for the perfect description: like ‘wildness and woodsmoke, with a little bit of peat.’
Perfect, as Ali says, for ‘adding Highland Hygge to a city apartment.’