Pipehacker Tip: Single-Serve Seasoning FTW!


Hide bagpipe bags have seen quite the resurgence in recent years. After seasons of testing and trying out all the new fancy hybrid and synthetic bags and drying systems, many of the top pipe bands have swung back and now rely on the “old-fashioned,” tried-and-true sheep hide pipe bag. There really is nothing simpler and to date, nothing that can get you the same richness and stability of sound. It requires only one thing to perform: regular seasoning.

Dumping goop into a sheepskin bag is so commonplace that most never give it a second thought. Buy your jar, heat it up, dump it in, and rub it around as needed. It seems easy and straightforward but, by the time you get down to the halfway point or below in your bottle of choice seasoning, it never really retains the consistency needed to do what it is supposed to do. Too many times heating up and cooling down starts to break up the bonds in the concoction. It seems to never solidify the same way and guaranteed, if it’s not working right in the bottle, it’s not working right in your bag. Solution? Break up the portion of seasoning in a typical “tartan tin” so that it is heated twice, maximum.

What You Need

    Plastic bottle of your favorite seasoning
    Empty, small plastic prescription pill bottles or vitamin bottles
    Plastic kitchen funnel

How to Do It

1. Prepare your materials. Wash and dry your empty pill bottles. Remove labels if you desire using hot water and Goo Gone. (I will not lie, removing labels from prescription bottles is a tedious affair. For this post, I simply wrapped them with painter’s tape.)

2. Carefully heat your bottle of seasoning in a microwave per usual, until seasoning is liquified.

3. Use the funnel and pour liquid seasoning into each pill bottle. (You can do without the funnel if you have good aim and do not mind a mess!) Leave the lids off for a while and let the seasoning cool.

4. When the seasoning has cooled, it should solidify a bit. Put the caps on the bottles, date them, label them, draw on them, color them, whatever tickles your fancy.

5. Single serve sound! These small bottles are ideal to throw into your pipe case when you travel so that you always have an emergency seasoning treatment if needed. The small ones pictured hold just about 3 oz. so they will pass muster through US airports. The childproof lids mean they will not leak or accidentally pop open, and there is no bulky bottle to worry about. Heat up a single bottle in the microwave for your regular bag treatment.

The ideal time to do this is with a new bottle of seasoning, or the first time you season a new bag. A new bag will take quite a bit of seasoning at first. Dispense the larger amount from a fresh bottle as needed into your bag, then divert the rest to the individual pill bottles.




Small Tunes Podcast: “Miss Haswell’s Favorite”


In this episode we hit the dance halls of 18th century Perthshire for “Miss Haswell’s Favorite” by Duncan MacIntyre. Variants of the tune are mostly known by the more modern title “Brisk Bob.” Listen to the podcast for more background and a rendition on the bagpipe.




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