The Dark Stuff

Regular readers of our Journal stories will know that our distillers have been spending time out on the moors of Harris this year, specifically in the place known as 'Cleite Mhòr’, an expanse of wild heather and old peatbanks far behind the small fishing village of Leverburgh.

We’ve been hard at work with the traditional tarasgeir, a long-handled 'peat iron' designed to slice and serve up black, bog-wet blocks into the hands of a peat-cutting partner. It’s these densely-packed slabs of slowly decomposing vegetation which have been cut and dried for fuel across these islands for generations.

As well as providing warmth for the coming winter in the heart and hearth of our distillery, we've had other plans for the ‘fàds’ harvested from all this hard work. We were minded to create a specially peated version of our forthcoming single malt whisky, The Hearach...


While the shallow soil and rugged landscape of Harris makes gathering peats on a grand scale quite impossible, we were determined to get enough to malt a dedicated batch of barley. By burning the rich, fibrous pieces, some sweet smoke and phenolic flavours could be imparted to the grain we would then go on to mash, ferment and eventually distill.

Provenance is important to us, which is why every drop of our whisky is being distilled and matured here in the Isle of Harris, as we attempt to capture as much of our island’s elemental nature as we can. So, the introduction of local peat to the process helps further this ambition to create a dram which speaks of our precise place the world

Earlier this month all this effort came to fruition as we began the first distillation of this more peated spirit, with Head Distiller Kenny Maclean working with his team to determine the correct cuts in their spirit run and make the crucial decisions regarding the flavours which may be imparted to the final dram.

To celebrate this quietly historic moment in our distilling story, we’re holding a wee event at the distillery on Tuesday 20th November to allow our local family and friends to sample the results of all this special spirit-making as we gather around the distillery’s peat fire once more.

We’ll be joined on the night by island author Donald S. Murray for a reading and talk on his excellent book ‘The Dark Stuff: Stories From The Peatlands’ a beautifully written exploration of the magic and mystery of the moor. Donald will also be joined by singer Iain ‘Costello’ MacIver for some peat-related puirt à beul.

If you can't be with us in person we cordially invite you to join us for the live stream on our Facebook page from 7pm on the night. So, why not pour yourself a glass of something suitably smokey and raise a toast to the power of our humble Hebridean peats from the comfort of your own home?



< Back to journal