Built To Last

For generations, crofters across the Outer Hebrides have looked to employ a little horsepower when it came to the more laborious aspects of their work. Once upon a time this was quite literally the case but over the years four legs have been superseded by four wheel drive as the preferred method of lightening loads.
Here at the distillery we have our own proud work-horse, one that boasts a long and illustrious history, the Harris Distillery's Land Rover Defender. Launched in its original incarnation in 1948, over 2 million ‘Landies’ have been sold to all corners of the globe and it is estimated 75% of all made are still up and running. Over the decades it has been driven by everyone from crofters to the Queen.

It is an anachronistic beast, the timeless utilitarian exterior echoing its use by the British Army while also appealing to design aficionados. The 2.2 litre engine produces around 120bhp, more than enough to pull heavy loads up hills but good luck topping 90mph on a flat road or going from 0-60 in under 15 seconds. It has permanent 4x4 drive and a crawler gear ratio so low you can practically let it drive itself, sometimes even uphill...
The Defender’s ride may leave a lot to be desired, our Production Manager Kenny Maclean recommends taking seasick tablets before stepping into the cab for a ride while guest host Peter Kwasniewski also bemoans the toll taken by the seats on the driver’s posterior during long journeys. Admittedly, taking a drive can feel a little bit like a strict orthopaedic work-out but then this is a beast of burden, not an Arabian stallion.
For all its wonderful flaws the Defender is built for work and built to last, its no-nonsense attitude to island life making it the ideal vehicle for our day-to-day graft here in Harris. With a trailer hitched to the rear it makes short work of the transportation of filled casks and empty barrels as it ploughs its own furrow between the distillery in Tarbert and our warehouses in Ardhasaig.

And doesn’t it look fantastic too?
Ours was one of the last Defenders to roll off the production line of the Solihull plant, bringing this long era to an end on January 29th 2016 after 67 years. But our Land Rover, like the distillery itself, will continue to thrive for many more years to come, working hard at the task at hand while meeting all the elemental challenges of whisky making in the wilds. 

< Back to journal