Anticipation mounts for the launch of the new Harris Distillery
The Isle of Harris is one of my favourite places. Boasting some of the best coastlines and landscapes on the planet, there's a powerfully captivating beauty here that is incredibly hard to find.
Trying not to let your surroundings distract you while teeing up on the Harris golf course....mislaying yourself in North Harris' lunar landscapes....realising you have only a curious sheep for company on one of the world's best beaches....Harris is a place for memories and for appreciation. What if you could take all of these feelings, all of the power of the island and put it all in a glass, and drink it. That is the superb revelation of where it all began for the owner of the soon-to-be-launched Harris Distillery. It's also my latest reason to keep making the journey to this glorious part of Scotland.
So what about this new product? What is going to put Harris on the whisky map? I am reliably informed that although barley will need to be brought in from elsewhere, the distillery water source is up there with the best in the country for quality. While determined to be distinctive from the famous brands originating from Islay in particular, peat is a certainty, at least to some extent. Given its ubiquitous nature up here, it would be rude not to. From my early probings of those in the know, comparisons with Highland Park and Talisker may be more accurate than with the take-your-head-off-peaty-goodness of the legendary Islay malts. That's not to say the master distillers won't be tempted I'm sure.
Whisky is a funny old product in that - for the good stuff mind - it takes many years for it mature into a state of readiness. The Harris Distillery get around the troublesome issue of nothing with which to toast their launch by turning to gin in the short term. Several distilleries around Scotland produce gin in addition to whisky, often with glorious success. Upcoming visitors to Harris' latest social enterprise can therefore rest assured, their glass need not be empty.
Harris is a hugely personal place. Warm and welcoming it is entirely appropriate that the distillery's ten staff are all local to these parts. With a prime location in the centre of Tarbert it is sure to become a first port of call to those stepping off the ferry. From my conversations with staff and locals, the excitement and pride that this project is bringing to Tarbert and to Harris is palpable. This is perhaps best underlined with the choice of The Hearach as their flagship single malt brand. Gaelic for a Harris inhabitant, it is a deserved nod to the origins of what I am certain will be a household name for whisky connoisseurs the world over for decades and centuries to come.
I was fortunate enough to spend my latest trip to the Outer Hebrides in the company of the lovely people behind the scenes of the Harris Distillery. Hosting a barbeque in Tarbert as the clock ticks down on their big launch, it was a pleasure to get to know those who will be firmly to blame for the habbit I am certain to have succumbed to by 2025. I am truly doomed. Amidst the excited barbeque buzz, as I wrestle with a stubborn langoustine, it is revealed that it is in fact World Whisky Day. As Harris and the Outer Hebrides prepare for a new surge in visitor numbers, I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be.
The Harris Distillery will open for visitors in the summer of 2015, exact date to be confirmed. You can keep up to date with their progress on their website www.harrisdistillery.com.
About the Author
Neil Robertson, owner of Locomotion Scotland and its associated travel blog Travels with a Kilt, aims to be your personalised resource to help you get the best out of your travels around Scotland. As a travel fanatic, nothing makes Neil happier than seeing new parts of the world and broadening his horizons. In recent years he has been all over the world for work and leisure to address his travel addiction. There really is nowhere like home, though, and now Neil proudly does what he can to share Scotland with other travellers.