Our Message In A Bottle

First and foremost, the focus of our distillers and team here in Tarbert is to produce the very best spirits we can. In much the same manner as our fellow Hearachs, what matters most is that something is done right, that function is more important than form. In other words there’s no point something looking pretty if it doesn’t do its job properly. Maybe it’s the vagaries of our island weather or the make do and mend attitude to crofting life and its related mechanics, but we can be a practical, no nonsense lot sometimes…

However, living where we do, exposure to beauty is inevitable. We’re surrounded by it year round. From the vast expanse of sky above to the sweeping golden sands and blue seas on every side, we can’t help but appreciate our island’s natural aesthetics. So when it came to creating the packaging that would finally hold our Isle of Harris Gin we wanted to ensure that the bottle to hold it would match up to its contents, something that would reflect the island and its wealth of physical attributes.

So we approached the team at Stranger & Stranger, a design agency whose work we very much admired. Their use of storytelling and imagination, combined with great craft and a deep understanding of visual language, prompted a telephone call to ask if they would be interested in the project. We explained the community side of the venture, its importance to the island and, thankfully, they found the whole concept compelling enough to agree to join us on our journey.


Managing Director Ivan Bell was invited to take the long trip to our home in Tarbert to gain a feel for the place...

“We visited in May last year and took two other members of our team who have never been ‘that far north before’ and seeing their response to such a naturally beautiful place with sandy white beaches and Azur blue sea was wonderful. The locals made us feel very welcome and we had many interesting conversations and enjoyed a warm hospitality that you can only find in such a small community.”

Following their visit the Stranger & Stranger team soon set to work, drawing on these formative impressions of the island.

“We were all influenced by the place, the people, and wanted to incorporate this somehow in the packaging, so the bottle design and labelling; the beautiful scenery, quite rugged, dramatic; the tweed – a traditional craft still carried out by individual weavers, and reflecting the subtle colours of the landscape.”


Ivan goes on to tell us…

“So we have used a subtle and harmonious interweaving of natural tones, flavours, ingredients in the final design. The ripple of the waves, the rugged landscape, the pattern of Harris tweed, the natural use of material, glass, wood and paper, emphasising the craft and dedication that has and will go into making both gin and whisky.”

We’ve been delighted, if not unsurprised, by people’s reaction to the bottle when it finally appears in their hands. Whether it’s the tactile nature of the glass, its reassuring weight in the hand or the little details, the imperfections and subtle colours…we hope our customers feel they are in possession of something that has been made with thought, care, skill and, perhaps most importantly, with meaning.

“Most people know instinctively when they see something that has been well designed (or not), and is of such a quality of finish that they have a certain expectation as to the care, pride and attention taken in producing the spirit within the bottle. Evoking such a reaction is part of our remit as packaging designers. 

Next time we’ll look a little closer at the physical aspects of the design, how it was made, the materials used and the rationale behind it. Meantime, thanks to the team at Stranger & Stranger, we have something that befits the spirit of our Isle of Harris Gin, a bottle which reflects our ideals and ambitions, a product that we can be proud to share with the world.



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