grand scottish design, art and whiskey tour

is there car more appropriate to drive in Scotland, especially on the highest roads in the UK, than a Jaguar I-Pace coated in Jacobean blue? The nation has a historic and intimate relationship with the British sports car manufacturer: two of the 53 founders of the C-Type, William Lyons, built to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (successful in 1951) flew under the flag of Ecurie Ecosse, the same legendary Edinburgh motor racing team, won again in 1956 and 1957 in the D-Type, and Dumfries-born Ian Callum was responsible for creating many recent icons such as F-Type, F-Pace and I-Pace as Design Director from 1999 to 2019. designboom’s electrified travel through the Cairngorms, from the V&A Dundee to Hauser & Wirth-owned Fife Arms and then on to the oldest official whiskey distillery in the country, reflected Jaguar’s ongoing mission to balance tradition and modernity.

V&A Dundee curates the best of Scottish design, past and present

all images courtesy of jaguar land rover


The inverted pyramids of the V&A Dundee, designed by the architect Kengo Kuma to mimic the rock formations that dominate the Scottish east coast, was a symbolic place to start our journey. At the institution’s inauguration in 2018, Jaguar’s first-ever all-electric car, the I-Pace, was unveiled in an exclusive exhibition of sketches, tech simulations and a scale clay model. . Now a colorful and immersive installation by the British-Nigerian designer Yinka Ilori inspires visitors. Upstairs in the permanent gallery, the global achievements of Scottish design are a proud reminder that the past informs the future of creativity. Curation varies in diversity, from hardware to furniture and Alexander McQueen at Timorous Beasties, with even the only surviving Charles Macintosh interior.

jaguar i-pace drive: great scottish tour of design, art and whiskey
designboom editor Tim Spears visits the museum’s Scottish design exhibition


Also first launched in 2018, our Dundee car was the cesium blue Jaguar I-Pace. The revolutionary SUV takes advantage of the freedom offered by electrification by rethinking all its proportions with an extended wheelbase and shortened overhangs. Jaguar’s design DNA is still distinct, as a wide grille with a hexagonal grid adorns the front of the stubby nose. Its low and ventilated hood juxtaposes a high and square rear part. Inside, the ebony interior balances the marque’s signature sporty, driver-oriented cockpit with enough space to rival that of larger sedans. Careful selection of high-quality, natural materials infuse Jaguar’s renowned luxury with durability. Its contrast of textures accentuates a contemporary spirit.

jaguar i-pace drive: great scottish tour of design, art and whiskey
Launched in 2018, the Jaguar I-Pace is the British brand’s very first all-electric car

The car received incremental improvements since its first launch. We ran – not literally – in the EV400 HSE model with 400bhp and 696Nm of torque. This accelerates from 0-60mph in 4.5s and up to a top speed of 124mph. Like most EVs, the driver experience is fast, but the I-Pace offers an even more appealing offering thanks to its low stance and precise steering. It successfully combines the performance of a sports car with the practicality of an SUV. 292 miles are achievable per charge, which takes about 45 minutes to fill from 5-80% with a 100kW DC charger.

jaguar i-pace drive: great scottish tour of design, art and whiskey
Jaguar’s design DNA is still distinct, as a wide grille with a hexagonal grid adorns the front of the stubby nose


While the I-Pace recharged, the Fife Arms was our night in the Cairngorms. The Grade B listed building, designed by Alexander Marshall Mackenzie in the 19th century as popularity in the area grew following Queen Victoria’s purchase of Balmoral, is still a Braemar landmark today. In 2015, Iwan and Manuela Wirth, co-founders of global contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth, purchased and set about reviving the former Victorian coaching inn. Based in Crathie and London Moxon Architects oversaw the restoration, which celebrates the region’s unique culture by interweaving the artisanal work of local creatives. It proves that creating something special equals the collective of a talented team, as Jaguar demonstrates with each of its own designs.

jaguar i-pace drive: great scottish tour of design, art and whiskey
located in Braemar, the Fife Arms, owned by Hauser & Wirth, is a former coaching inn revived by Moxon Architects

Art is at the heart of the Fife Arms experience. Restored interiors designed by Russell Sage layer a strong Scottish narrative using specially designed tweed and tartan by Araminta Campbell, rare specimens from the natural world and 16,000 works of art and antiques assembled by the Swiss owners. Commissioned pieces sit alongside antiques: Queen Victoria’s pencil and watercolor drawing of a deer shot by John Brown in 1874 greets guests in the entryway while Richard Jackson’s “Red Deer” chandelier falls into cascade down the stairs as if an enlarged bag pipe were blocked by illuminated glass timbers; the “Apollo/Still Shining” collaboration between Steinway & Sons, composer Robert Glasper and artist Mark Bradford entertain guests nestled around the 125x125cm walnut fireplace depicting Robert Burns’ poems at reception; or the “Ancient Quartz” painting by Zhang Enli covering the ceiling of the living room above “Woman Seated in an Armchair” by Pablo Picasso, 1953. Here, heritage is celebrated as much as new.

jaguar i-pace drive: great scottish tour of design, art and whiskey
Art is at the heart of the hotel, like Richard Jackson’s “Red Deer” chandelier (right foreground)


Our final stop on the trip was a visit to Glenturret, Scotland’s oldest official whiskey distillery. Crafting single malt since 1763, the Highland distillery produces approximately 340,000 liters per year. Now owned by the Lalique Group, it is complete with a factory, a shop and a Michelin-starred restaurant. A visit, ending with the tasting of a small glass or two, highlights the care of a product that has been matured for at least 10 years. The limited version of the E-Type distillery bottle has actually been aged for three decades. Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the sports car’s debut at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show, just 265 bottles of whiskey were produced – one for each brake horsepower of the iconic E-Type. Like Jaguar, the distillery exemplifies how historical tradition can be enhanced to create contemporary wonders.

Joseph E. Golightly