He Who Pays The Piper...

We’re always excited by the sound and smells of our new island spirit as it flows from the bright copper stills here at the distillery. It’s a fascinating process and the satisfaction derived from turning water, barley and yeast into Harris’ first Single Malt Whisky never fails to disappoint. 

But we Hearachs are a pragmatic bunch and we never lose sight of the fact that this wonderful endeavour of ours has to be grounded in economic reality. We simply (and quite literally) can’t afford to pursue our plans without ensuring the sums add up and the books are always balanced.

So to make sure our plans never fall foul of frivolous spending or lavish Hebridean lifestyles we are fortunate to have the skilled hand of Angus MacSween to steady the rudder and keep our money matters organised at all times. Angus, or simply Sweeny as he is known here, is our Financial Administrator and has lived and worked in Harris his whole life.

Originally from Scalpay he now lives in Urgha, a small village halfway between his place of birth and the distillery here in Tarbert. He’s married to Aileen who is the headteacher at our local Sir E Scott School and has a daughter Donna who is also a teacher, slightly further afield in the Glasgow Gaelic School. Brains obviously run in the MacSween family…

   

When Sweeny isn’t pouring over the payroll and agonising over accounts he can be found blowing off a little steam by puffing on the pipes. An talented player of both the Scottish smallpipes and the Great Highland Bagpipes, he’s no stranger to the stage, playing with local ceilidh groups like Sound of Harris Ceilidh Band and Roineabhal. His musical tastes also run the gamut from a love of Led Zeppelin to the sounds of island bands like Skippinish.

He’s also very proud of the work being done by the Harris Disitllery. Managing Director Simon Erlanger describes him thus: “For, with and from Harris - he is the embodiment of our number one value”.  As Angus says himself…

“I think the distillery is a fantastic project and has already been a great success. I feel the whole of Harris is benefitting from it and will continue to benefit for many years. Working in the distillery with local people is a great experience as we all have the same goals and all wish to make a contribution to its long term success. It is a long term project and should provide employment for the island for generations. My future is hopefully at Isle of Harris Distillery until I retire.”

We greatly value Sweeny’s ongoing contribution and as long as he has plenty puff in his lungs we are more than happy to keep paying this particular piper. Thankfully for us he obviously approves of the tunes we are calling too…

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