The Isle Of Harris distillery is located on the Isle of Harris in the outer Hebrides (off the far north-western coast of Scotland) on the edge of the Atlantic ocean. Exposed to the wind and waves, with high hills, open moorland and golden sandy beaches, the isle is an ancient and elemental place. The perfect environment to create incredible gin it seems…
Known as the social distillery, Isle of Harris Distillery opened in October 2015 in the small harbour village of Tarbert. The distillery was the vision of Anderson ‘Burr’ Bakewell, a man who has been connected to the island for many years. Anderson’s idea was to create something that would provide employment for generations to come by sharing this special place with the world. It is both a place and an idea for bringing people together, to share the special spirit of Harris and create a sense of belonging wherever you are from.
The Isle of Harris Distillery’s main purpose is to create jobs, support the fragile local economy and address issues surrounding population decline in the Outer Hebrides. Five local distillers and two young apprentice distillers, trained from the very beginning in their craft, make a single malt whisky (you can read more about the whisky below!) and an Outer Hebridean gin. A team of over 30 full time staff help create the beautiful spirits and welcome visitors from all over the world. All this hard work and determination has resulted in a distillery that now provides secure employment and gives people a reason to remain in Harris to live and work.
Award winning Isle of Harris gin is distilled in a small copper gin still known as ‘The Dottach’. The taste is defined by a number of ingredients that define such as juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, cubebs, bitter orange peel, liquorice and cassia bark, however one ingredients in particular marks out this spirit. And that’s thanks to sugar kelp; sustainably harvested by a local diver from around the seas of the Outer Hebrides, the Sugar kelp creates subtle coastal notes and provides this gins unique flavour.
T A S T I N G N O T E S
Nose: A well-defined juniper note with pine needles, immediately followed by the fresh citrus notes of bitter orange, lime and grapefruit. Develops a complex floral note of rose and wallflowers with crushed green herbs, coriander and gooseberry all underpinned by mixed spice. Sugar kelp adds to the complexity and richness with a dry maritime note.
Palate: Refreshing, with good balance between the bitter juniper and pine and the sweet fruit flavours of mango, grapefruit and orange. A green herb flavour develops with crushed coriander. Distinctive and smooth with a dry, flinty taste.
Finish: Overall a long, clean finish. As the juniper and citrus peel notes fade away, sweet vanilla and black pepper remain with a gentle reminder of the sea.
If however, you are not much of a gin drinker, the Isle of Harris Distillery also makes a single malt whisky called ‘The Hearach’ (the Scottish Gaelic word for someone from Harris). This will be the first legal whisky to be made in the Isle of Harris, maturing in ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso casks at the shore-side warehouse in the nearby village of Ardhasaig.
The whisky will be a malt of distinction: lightly peated, complex, full of character and with great balance. The distillers are also making spirit for a more heavily peated expression of the whisky, using locally cut peat. The Hearach will only be released once it has become its best, a whisky that the community will be truly proud of. Unlike most island distilleries, every drop of spirit is distilled, matured and bottled on Harris ensuring true island provenance. Find out more here.
Images: Lawrence Winram