The Tale of the White Stag of Arran
A Tale of Two Brothers
Once upon a time two brothers set out on a journey through alpine forests standing at the foothills of snow-capped mountains. Their journey had no destination, but they knew knowledge awaited them at the end of it. Not knowing what lay ahead, the brothers trudged on and on, a little more every day, braving the biting cold winds and the icy nights. Then morning came and through the dense foliage bright sunlight fell in sharp shards over the freshly fallen snow on the forest floor. The brothers saw hoof marks all over the snow, as if some heavenly being as light as air had trodden upon the fair snow, leaving faint traces behind. They followed the footprints and found the most divine creature any human has ever laid eyes on, gazing at them with soft, brown eyes. A royal stag, as white as the snow stood in front of them. And thus, their journey came to an end as the deific sentinel embarked them upon a journey of wisdom, power, and death.
The legend of the elusive, mystic white stag was born ages ago in Europe, finding its way into Japanese folklore in due course of travel. From the Celts to the Japanese, the story of the white stag has varied greatly over the ages, but it has carried with itself an aloof sacredness of being. But one common thread that ties all tales of the stag is that the stag is a pristine being signifying innocence and wisdom, an emblem of nature, life and death. A Scottish myth goes that the stag arrives as a herald of the realm of death near the Brodick Castle when chiefs of Hamilton die, to urge them on to the other side. The Irish folks eulogize the white stag as a bringer of fortune for a lucky few who catch its glimpse while some other cultures believe the stag to be a true mascot of knowledge that lies on the other side of death. To this day, the stag remains a creature shrouded in age-old belief, lore, and mystery.
Yet, of all these stories that surround the white stag’s being, the one that is the most famous has close relationship with the land of Arran. But what has the white stag got to do with the whisky-brewing island of Arran? Well, that is a whole new story.
The White Stag and the Island of Arran
The hilly island of Arran, nestles between Ardrossan, Ayr, and the Kintyr peninsula has been home to flocks of golden, spotted deer just as long as it been inhabited by men folk. Alert and supple, the deer of the island of Arran have always resided in harmony with the people of the island, showing the familiarity of domesticated pets. Loved and cherished, the deer of Arran have always been considered a harbinger of good fortune and joyfulness. The famous white stag is fabled to have appeared for the first time on the island and since then, has been closely associated with good luck.
Arran Whisky’s association with the white stag is an exercise in recognising the uniqueness inherent to both and the close relationship each shares with the Scottish island. If the distillers at Arran Whisky are to be believed, the water that goes into brewing the golden dram is as pure as the pristine white stag, as far removed from the hubbub of human interferences and intervention as can be. The making of Arran Whisky is synonymous with the elusive white stag, appreciated by most but unknown to all. The Scottish folklore may travel far and wide and change form over time, but the place the white stag will hold in the hearts of the residents of Arran will always remain the one and the same.