A Chat With Annabel Meikle Pt. II

Last week we caught up with Annabel Meikle, the director of Keepers of the Quaich and all-round whisky and spirits afficionado, for a wee chat about all things Harris.

Annabel had helped us create much of our distillery's guest experience, including work on our tours and the Flavour Abacus made from Harris Tweed in our Flavour Room. After learning about how this all came about in part one of our interview, today we turn to the serious business of whisky for part two.

With our historic 'The Hearach' Single Malt on the horizon, we were curious to hear her thoughts on our first island dram and more...


Do you think gin drinkers could/should ‘crossover’ to whisky and what similarities or parallels do you think exist between the enjoyment of the two. Can a gin lover become a whisky lover (and vice versa!)?

Absolutely - I think that those who enjoy and appreciate one good spirit can transfer this across the category. If I’m buying a craft gin I will nose and taste it neat and then add a good quality tonic water. In the same way when I’m appreciating a good dram, I will treat it the same way - use a good glass, nose and taste and then carefully add water. 

Do you have a whisky drinking philosophy? How do you best enjoy your dram and what do you like to drink?

My philosophy is very firmly that when the whisky is in your glass it’s your whisky. I enjoy my whisky in a variety of ways - I’m happy with a good blend and a slug of water - but equally I enjoying nursing something old with perhaps a splash of water. It’s all about the time, the company, the moment and the location. Thankfully there is such a range in the world of whisky we have plenty to choose from. 

Do you have any hopes or expectations for ’The Hearach’ single malt? Is there any direction you’d like to see it go or particular flavour profiles you’d like to find in the glass?

One of the early projects I worked on with the team was to try and identify what the spirit would taste like from the profile of the spirit and the casks. It was incredibly hard, as I knew instinctively that Harris would stamp its own personality on the spirit. I would like it to capture the wild beauty of the island, the warmth of the people and embrace a youthful vitality. As a part owner of a cask I have a vested interest - I am excited to see how it matures. ​

Have you visited Harris before? What do you think about the island and people?

I hadn’t been to Harris before as it didn’t have a distillery and that tended to be what took me round the Western Isles. I was enchanted by the island from the minute I arrived - I think Ian’s book has whet my appetite. The welcome I received from everybody was so warm and embracing - it was amazing. Everybody took time to stop and talk. The beauty of the island is legendary and I was lucky to have fine spring weather. Obviously the distillery was my first stop and although it was still under construction you could feel the life being breathed into it. 
What does the future hold for you, what are your short and long term plans?

I am planning a visit in the spring with my parents, to thank my father for the inspiration that his gift of Ian Lawson’s book made to me. Although I follow the weekly progress I am keen to see the distillery in operation. The long term plan is to enjoy a dram with my fellows from the Coracle Cask Club - ideally on Luskentyre Beach in the sun! 


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