Harris Born and Bred

It’s been a wee while since we met a member of the distillery team so today we introduce you to Sandra Fraser, one of the original Tarbert Ten team on which we founded our distillery. Those of you who have met Sandy and heard her talk on a distillery tour will be unsurprised to hear she’s a proud Hearach through and through.

Sandy has lived in Seilebost, on the west side of Harris, all her life, save for a 4 year sojourn in Aberdeen. After leaving school she moved to the Scottish oil capital to study, gaining her diploma in Advertising and Public Relations before going on to gain an Honours degree in Corporate Communication. But as with so many of our staff, home is always where the heart is and the bright lights of big cities rarely compete with our island’s pull to return.

However, her time in Aberdeen was well spent for more than just educational reasons, it was among these bright lights that she met her future husband Billy (one of our distillers!) and after over 10 years together they have been happy in Harris ever since. They now have a 3 year old son, Rory and a baby due in 5 weeks time!

Back in 2014 the news of a distillery being built in Harris quickly fired Sandy’s imagination and she was keen to bring her skills to bear on the project with a focus on developing island tourism. Her official title here at the distillery is now Guest Host where she is primarily involved in conducting our regular tours around the distillery, bringing lots of local knowledge and enthusiasm to the proceedings, connecting with visitors and effortlessly making our guests feel at home.


“I was very apprehensive when  carrying out the first tour at the distillery when we opened last year, but now I really feel so comfortable in my role and try and put a ‘Sandy twist’ into the tours! We have lots of visual elements within the tour, this also helped me to understand the whisky and gin process, every tour I conduct I learn something new. We really want everyone who comes on a tour to feel a connection with us all at the Harris Distillery and by making the tours as personal as possible helps us to do this. A lot of the people who come on our tours have never been to Harris before, therefore I try my best to give an insight into the Harris way of life as well as covering the aspects of our Social Distillery. We have had fantastic feedback from the tours, we have been open only 10 months and we are always learning!”

Sandy tells us she is very proud of what has been achieved in the first year for the distillery as she’s witnessed the awareness of Isle of Harris Distillery and word of the Isle of Harris Gin spreading right across the country. Despite admitting she wasn’t a gin drinker when she joined us she is now (outwith her pregnancy enforced hiatus obviously), firmly believing that she simply hadn’t found the right gin for her until the Isle of Harris spirit came along. She also displayed one of the finest noses on our Nosing Panel so we trust her judgement on this matter.

“I was the first to carry out a tour of our Distillery and hope that I will be doing tours for the exciting years to come.  It is lovely to see so many people come into our Distillery, being met by the warmth of the fire in the main entrance and the warmth from the team. Just seeing so many people supporting the Distillery is fantastic!  We can’t wait to see the first whisky, The ‘Hearach’ being bottled here in Harris. Meantime I am very much looking forward to celebrating the birth of our new baby in the next few weeks with a Harris Gin in hand - Slainte!”

We look forward to celebrating Sandra and Billy’s new arrival very soon and what better place to work when a baby’s head requires wetting? Meantime it’s great to know another generation is on its way and likewise we hope to be here in the heart of Harris community for many more generations to come.

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