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The Wanderer Returns

This week we’re pleased to introduce the fifth member of our Tarbert Ten team to you, Donnie Macleod. Donnie is one of our distillers and responsible for production administration as well as making a very special dram. Dividing his time between the still room and his desk, Donnie will be the man making sure that every drop of Isle of Harris spirit is not only beautifully made but also fully recorded and accounted for.

Donnie’s road to the still rooms of Harris has been a long and winding one. A local boy, he studied Mechanical Engineering at college here in the islands before leaving our shores in search of work and a little adventure. This adventurous spirit took him around the world, travelling to Europe, through Russia, China and onwards into South East Asia to reach Indonesia and head onwards to Australia, possibly as far from Harris as it is possible to go. From here he travelled to New Zealand, California (via Fiji), Vancouver, Toronto and New York, working in construction as he did so, before finally, four years after first departing, returning to his island home.

Now married to Shona with two children and a 1st Class Honours Degree in International Studies under his belt, until recently Donnie worked on organising and maintenance planning for major international companies before the new distillery plans caught his eye and we welcomed the addition of his engineering acumen and life experience to our team.

“ It’s amazing to be part of the first distillery in Harris, everyone in the distillery team is well aware that it’s going to take hard work, and we have to make sure we get everything right. As one of our company values states, we’re ‘for, with and from the Isle of Harris’ and we will ensure we make a world class spirit to make the people of Harris proud of the whisky bottle carrying the name ‘The Hearach’. ”

It is clear that the world is a much smaller place since Donnie first departed on his travels as a young man. The internet and the rise of social media has meant that even remote communities like those here in Harris can be a key part of the wider global community. Thanks to ever improving broadband connections here in the islands the work we do in this beautifully distant corner of the world can be shared and enjoyed by others wherever they call home.

“ Things have progressed from me making reverse charge phone calls from a phone booth in Phnom Penh! In days gone by many of the men who had joined the Merchant Navy brought stories of the wider world back to Harris. Now the distillery is bringing Harris to the wider world and this can only be a positive thing for us. It seems we’re the ‘Connected Distillery’ as well as being the 'Social Distillery' ’’

As Donnie continues to work hard on his distilling craft, training with other distillers across Scotland, digging deep into technical manuals and the enviable tribulations of whisky tasting, he’s also looking forward to bringing a uniquely Harris dram into the world. With so many whisky makers across the globe, from Scotland and Scandinavia to India and Australia, he’ll be striving to make a spirit which stands out, a whisky that truly is for, with and from the Isle of Harris. After travelling so many miles, now is the time to help put his own island firmly on the map.

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