Diversion at the Pot Still

Have you ever tried to pin down where a new story begins? In my world the best stories begin with a sketch. Take this one from 2014, part of the very first series of Sketchbook Skool ‘Beginning’

sketch of whisky festival by Ronnie Cruwys

Four years later and it’s second nature to draw a few bottles on the wall of Glasgow’s Pot Still  where we were enjoying a glass of Edradour during our transition North. It’s a convivial pub especially on a snowy night and we began chatting with our table companions over my sketchbook…They were over from Germany visiting some distilleries and I gave it hardly a passing thought when Jens mentioned he was looking for an artist to draw labels.

Wee Dram of Edradour Pot Still  Glasgow ronnie cruwys
Where the diversion began…

I’ve got quite a few whisky sketches tucked away. They’re a bit of a clue that I quite like a malt though I am no expert!

Colquhoun Lodge Cruwys.jpg

whisky fest 2015 Ronnie Cruwys.jpg

I’m going to keep this a short story.

Today I finished the 386th hand drawn label to go on a very fine 1976 Speyside Malt for Sansibar – an independent bottler in Germany. You can see some of the bottles here: Sansibar

ronnie cruwys sansibar labels speyside 1976 2.jpg
Spot the Burlsem Burleighware by my elbow! 

It’s been a drawing marathon taking up pretty much all of my working time since moving to Scotland at the end of June. Each label is a sketch of somewhere I’ve been to over the years, some detail that caught my eye, or some place that meant something to me including our current neighbours’ place (below). If you look closely you’ll see their dog Flynn being watched by our two cats and the local stray (now part of our gang) with his half bitten ear. We call him Rum Tum. Plums are dripping off the trees above him and you can see the old apple trees of the Clyde Valley orchards beyond.

duncan and Louise place.jpg
left to right: Josh, Ollie, Flynn and Rum Tum

If you really want an idea of where we’ve moved to, Countryfile did a short tv clip on the Clyde Valley orchards filmed practically on our doorstep. We live in the Fruit Basket of Scotland!

So these are the last batch of labels on their way to Germany.

ronnie cruwys sansibar whisky labels1976 speyside malt a.jpg

This has been my view as I work – the mist is over the River Clyde in the valley below.

Clyde valley ronnie cruwys home view 1.jpg

It’s been a wrench to leave Staffordshire with a lot of goodbyes on top of the passing of my beloved sister but what a time it has been this summer!

I haven’t forgotten my streets and will leave you with a taste of my new surroundings with a big thank you for reading!


hazelbank clyde valley ronnie cruwys
Hazelbank, Clyde Valley


11 thoughts on “Diversion at the Pot Still”

  1. Such an engaging story-and an illustrated one too. So pleased you have found a fantastic new string to add to your amazingly creative bow. Love those illustrations Ronnie!

  2. Ronnie, this is a true story and these storys can only happen in the whiskyworld. Thank you so much for taking the time for me – Jens

  3. Your new surroundings look lovely – hope you’ll be very happy there. Love the labels – what an incredibly creative commission! And – my most heartfelt commiserations on the loss of your sister. XXX D

  4. What a wonderful story Ronnie. Your drawings as always are delightful, and to do so many! I only managed half the full quota for Inktober! I’m glad to hear you’re settled in such beautiful surroundings, but so sorry for the loss of your sister. Judy x

  5. Love the serendipity of this project! Truly is a great example of “you never know who’s out there” – as artists we tell each other this all the time, but it’s fantastic to know it’s real. And congratulations on taking on this mammoth project and finishing it with joy!

    1. Thank you Art We Wonderful. Just goes to show that doing what you love – in my case sketching over a malt can take us into quite an adventure! The sheer quantity of labels in a short space of time was hard but I kept focusing on the label in hand – they were all different, so it’s been a really good discipline. It helps when the subjects are so interesting!

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