Summer’s End

Last weekend brought the September Equinox, that key moment in our island calendar when the nights begin to grow longer than the days we leave behind. It is now autumn, and the change in season is marked as it always is here in the Outer Hebrides, with an influx of high winds and wilder weather.
Here at the distillery, we feel the onward cycle of the seasons in a rather gentler way, as the number of visitors slowly eases after several wonderfully busy and bustling months. The comforting Canteen soups are becoming a little more hale and hearty and we find ourselves adding extra fàds of peat to our warm and welcoming fire each day.

In preparation for the colder days ahead, we’ve been cutting, stacking and drying our distillery peats out on the moor behind Leverburgh. The Cleite Mhòr is an area where generations of Hearaich have taken part in this annual activity, so we’ve been proud to keep the tradition alive here in our own small way.
Recently, Kenny Maclean our head distiller led the journey to the peat banks once more for the final part of the process. It was time to gather the now well-dried slabs and ‘bring the peats home’, a moment islanders may fondly remember from times gone by, as the many hands of family and friends made light of the hard work.

With an old Massey Ferguson TE20 tractor in tow to help things along, we got busy loading trailers and getting the big bags filled for transportation back to the distillery in Tarbert. While many of these beautifully burning peats will be stacked and used to keep the distillery fire alive over the coming year, we also have some very special plans for the rest.
These other Harris peats, cut by the hands of our distillers themselves, are on their way to Bairds Malting in Inverness. Here, they’ll be used to malt barley for a more peated expression of our forthcoming whisky, The Hearach Single Malt. By doing this, we hope to bring the evocative smoke aromas so familiar to our island villages to a final dram in your glass.

Meantime, please enjoy this short film we made of our final day on the moor. You’ll enjoy some of the sights and sounds of the tasks to hand and learn a little more about the tradition of cutting peats here in the Outer Hebrides. As the year rolls on, there is much to look forward and raise a glass to, even here at summer’s end.

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