Taste the Spirit of Harris.
A distillery at the centre of the community; when it comes to discovering the best distilleries in Harris, and the Hebridean islands more generally, there’s a lot of great places to start.
Harris is an island steeped in tradition but brimming with contemporary innovation. Nowhere is that better illustrated than at the Harris Distillery itself….
Nestling on the shore of East Loch Tarbert, this thriving local business, which opened in 2015, has not only brought a resurgence of employment and ambition to Harris, but produces some of the finest spirits in the Hebrides.
The team also run a range of social projects on Harris. The distillery is at the hub of community life in the north west. Their mission is to act as a catalyst for positive change on the island, as well as providing locals and visitors with some wonderful drinks to enjoy.
A Warm Welcome
From the constantly burning peat fire at the heart of the distillery to the engaging team. They are always ready to tell you their story of how the founder, Burr Bakewell, brought his passion to life. Every aspect of the Harris Distillery offers visitors a warm welcome.
That and the team’s delight in sharing their story with you makes this one of the best distilleries Harris has to offer.
And if you’re a lover of fine spirits, this is a wonderful place to visit for a tasting tour. Make sure to pick up a bottle or two to take away.
200 years ago, the spirit of choice on Harris was known as the uisge beatha. It would flow from stills hidden across the island, mostly under the noses of the excisemen. Today, the Harris Distillery has revived the tradition of whisky production with their popular Hearaich single malt.
This whisky represents a real conversation between nature and nurture. The gifts of the remote Harris environment combine beautifully with the expertise of the brewers. This is all led by managing director Simon Erlanger.
The Hearach is made from the soft waters of Harris itself. The fast-flowing stream from which it flows, Abhainn Cnoc a ’Charrain, running over the oldest rocks on earth. The environment in which the whisky is produced is windswept and rugged, and shaped by the Gulf Stream’ Atlantic storms.
As a result, there’s a freshness and energy to this subtle spirit that really does reflect the rare and elusive spirit of Harris.
And of course, the winds of the Outer Hebrides keep the summers cool and help create just the right microclimate, perfectly balanced for whisky maturation.
Maybe You’d Prefer a Gin?
More recently, the Harris Distillery has launched a highly successful gin. Smooth, complex and refreshing, this is a spirit that captures the maritime nature of Harris. Infused with local sugar-kelp seaweed and 8 carefully chosen botanicals. This original and distinctive drink is perfect for the summer months.
Every drop is distilled in a small copper gin still known as ‘The Dottach’, before being bottled and sealed by hand.
Gin is an increasingly popular choice for visitors and online shoppers today. Profits from this product are used to grow the distillery’s workforce and bring employment opportunities to the local community. This provides a real foundation to the local economy. As with all the best distilleries in Harries and throughout the Hebrides, the most successful are the ones that put both great products and strong community engagement at the top of the list.
There’s Even More To Explore
The market for gin has grown tremendously over the last few years. Many distillers have returned to the Hebrides to put down roots and make the most of the environment and produce available.
If you’re travelling around the islands, why not sample some citrus and heather infused ‘Downpour’ gin. A gin located at the North Uist Distillery, founded by a young couple who returned to the island to pursue their dream. Alternatively, you could visit the Isle of Barra Distillers and sample some of their brilliant Barra Atlantic gin.
Wherever your taste buds take you… it’s good to know that Burr Bakewell’s vision of bring the distilling industry back to Harris has proven successful across so many Hebridean islands.
Don’t forget to check opening times in advance if you’re planning to visit the best distilleries in Harris. You can find lots of information on a range of distillery visits in Harris.
Have you sampled a great whisky or enjoyed a refreshing gin on Harris?
Why not leave a comment and pass on your recommendations to another Fir-Chlis guest? We’d love to hear from you.