- The Social Distillery
- Isle of Harris Gin
- Find Our Spirit
- The Hearach Single Malt
Our Gin Story So Far…
Posted on: 29th April, 2016
Last year we began sharing the story of our Isle of Harris Gin, but with the distillery doors open and all manner of other exciting news coming our way the tale was left not quite fully told. So let’s recap just a little before we continue with our telling…
We began with the helping hands of ethnobotanist Susanne Masters who joined us in Harris to research the potential of our island botanicals. Her work looked at all manner of plants particular to our hill and moor, how they might affect our spirit and play a role in the first gin made here in the Outer Hebrides.
After looking at everything from Silverweed to Sphagnum Moss, she turned her attention to the sea and discovered, deep below the waves, a special species of seaweed…Sugar kelp. And so Saccharina latissima became the focus of our attentions, growing in abundance around our shores and hand-harvestable by traditional methods.
We turned to local sailor and diver Lewis Mackenzie to source the seaweed for us and utilising his expert knowledge we were able to reap a sustainable harvest. Gathered by his hand and sickle we could ensure an ecological addition to our spirit and bring a unique island ingredient to the other 8 botanicals we had chosen.
The science continued as we then collaborated with the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Edinburgh’s Heriot Watt University to produce the recipes and methodology required to make our new gin the best it could be. We also connected with a young man called Leon Webb who was to work on optimising the spirit and become, for a time, part of the team here in Harris.
We had designed a special wee copper gin still and christened her “The Dottach” named after a feisty local lady of rather diminutive stature. Her story is still to be told but her namesake was made with great craftsmanship by the artisans at Frilli in Siena, Italy and was installed alongside her whisky-making cousins in our Spirit Hall.
Once our botanicals and recipe worked with this new gin still we began to refine and optimise our spirit making and formed a special panel of local men and women tasked with the responsibility of nosing and tasting our output. Under the guidance of expert Gordon Steele we worked hard to make sure the Isle of Harris Gin our distillers were producing was being made to exacting standards.
Finally, we wanted to encapsulate this new gin in a bottle which spoke not just of its contents but of a wider island spirit. We were fortunate to capture the passion and imagination of the award-winning designers of Stranger & Stranger who visited Harris and left full of creative ideas. The rest of their work gave us packaging and a final product which our island can truly be proud of.
And so our Isle of Harris Gin story continues, with plenty still to share over the coming months. We’ll focus on the individual ingredients, the story of our little gin still, the methods of the men who make the spirit and much more besides. We invite you to join our gin journey as we go, ideally with a glass to hand…