Posted on: 30th September, 2016
In a change from our usual weekly piece of storytelling we thought we'd let our Managing Director Simon Erlanger have a few words as we enter our second exciting year of distilling in the heart of Harris.
Simon has been involved with the distillery project from the earliest days and continues to lead our venture, utilising his years of industry experience and a deep passion for our island project.
We look forward to interviewing Simon in the very near future, meantime please enjoy his take on the last 365 days of distilling life...
" What an extraordinary first year in the life of the Isle of Harris’s first legal distillery!
When we lit our peat fire and opened the doors of the ‘Social Distillery’ to visitors for the first time, we were anxious to ensure that each guest felt the warmth of a true Harris welcome. What we hadn’t anticipated was how quickly our reputation would grow and we were amazed to greet over 60,000 people during the year.
The distillery was conceived by our founder and Chairman Anderson Bakewell to act as a catalyst- to help create lasting jobs and prosperity for the island. Just one year in, we are already employing a core team of 18 amazing local people (26 during the summer) and that number is set to grow in line with our ambition.
Our team of locally recruited distillers have worked to refine the making of our Isle of Harris spirit, destined to become The Hearach Single Malt. Just 12 weeks after we fired up our stills for the first time, we were satisfied that we had achieved the desired result and could proudly fill the 200 casks pre-ordered by pioneer followers of our project.
The most fascinating aspect of a new whisky distillery is the anticipation of how the spirit will develop. What kind of malt will this elemental island create in this new whisky Region of Scotland? While we await the answer we have been able to take pride in the creation of our first Isle of Harris Gin.
Originally intended just for visitors to the island, there was such a clamour to make our gin more widely available that we set up a delivery service from the island, determined to stay as connected as possible to our customers. We certainly never dreamed of demand outpacing supply but running out of bottles and responding to the gin ‘drought’ was a ‘high class’ challenge to which our stalwart Harris team responded with calm aplomb.
One year on from the Grand Opening and the biggest ceilidh in living memory, where we toasted the launch with the first batch of this Isle of Harris gin, what better way to celebrate than by toasting the birth of our first distillery baby, Toby, born to Sandy and Billy just a week before our anniversary? The 1,916 just became The 1,917!
Thanks to all of you who follow our news and are a part of our endeavour. Your support is amazing and fills us with energy. We have so many exciting plans for our second year and look forward to sharing them with you.
- Simon "