The Hearach Single Malt Whisky: A Historic Journey from the Isle of Harris
Isle of Harris, the stunning jewel of the Outer Hebrides, is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant turquoise beaches that could rival those of the Caribbean. This picturesque island is not only a haven for natural beauty but also a place where tradition meets innovation. Amidst this backdrop, the Isle of Harris Distillery stands as a symbol of hope, revitalizing distilling traditions that were lost during the Pabbay clearances in the 1840s. Today, we unveil the distillery's much-anticipated creation, The Hearach Single Malt Whisky, marking the birth of the first legal whisky produced on the island.
A Community United by Spirit
Founded in 2015 by Anderson 'Burr' Bakewell, the distillery was established not only to produce exceptional spirits but also to breathe life into the island's economy and provide sustainable job opportunities for the locals. It began with just ten islanders known as the 'Tarbert ten.' Today, it proudly employs 51 individuals, all born and bred on Harris, embodying the spirit of the island and earning the moniker 'Hearachs.'
One of the driving forces behind The Hearach's creation is Harry Wood, the distillery's blender, and Shona Macleod, the assistant blender, both of whom started their journeys as teenagers working in various roles within the distillery. Over the years, they honed their craft with the guidance of consultants.
Crafted with Precision
The magic behind The Hearach's flavor profile lies in the choice of casks used for maturation. Three bourbons – Woodford Reserve, Heaven Hill, and Buffalo Trace – along with two sherries – Oloroso and Fino – come together to create this exceptional whisky. It's worth noting that the original four distillers, including Shona's husband, played a pivotal role in the distillation, bottling, and warehousing of The Hearach, adding a unique emotional touch to this release.
Designing a Masterpiece
While The Hearach's taste has been meticulously crafted, so has its appearance. The iconic Harris Gin bottle, designed by Stranger and Stranger, set a trend with its elegant turquoise design. The pressure to match the high expectations for The Hearach's bottle design was immense. Mike Donald, the chief storyteller at the Isle of Harris Distillery, revealed that creating the perfect bottle was a journey marked by challenges and revisions.
The final design is short and stocky, resembling an art deco decanter that fits snugly in your hand. Instead of the ocean-inspired ripples on the gin bottle, The Hearach features regimented vertical and horizontal lines reminiscent of Harris Tweed. The color palette shifts from the sea's hues to heavier greys and copper, reflecting the essence of the land.
A Taste of The Hearach
On the journey to discover The Hearach, whisky enthusiasts and experts, including Dave Broom, gathered to savor its flavors. Every drop of this whisky has been distilled by local hands, fulfilling Burr's vision to provide employment and sustain the island's community. The result is a delicious, moreish whisky with grassy and herbal notes, a hint of smoke, and a mineral character from the Fino casks.
Shona Macleod eloquently describes her tasting experience, mentioning gentle peat smoke, toasted maltiness, hints of homemade applesauce, and the aroma of machair flowers. The complexity unfolds with mixed spices, old-fashioned sweetness, and a long, clotted-cream finish, leaving behind the essence of new leather.
The Unveiling and Beyond
As the sun set over the bay, The Hearach Single Malt made its historic debut. On September 23, 2023, the distillery opened its doors for eager purchasers, offering the whisky both in-store and online. The first release was sold out almost immediately but don’t give up just yet, in October, it will become available in specialist retailers and bars across the UK and in over 20 countries worldwide.
The Hearach Single Malt Whisky is more than just a drink; it's a testament to the unity of the Harris community, a reflection of the island's heritage, and a promise of a slower, more contemplative way of enjoying life. As you savor each drop, you connect with the elemental spirit of this extraordinary island, a place where people and place are truly woven together.
So, from time to time, be here, and let The Hearach transport you to the rugged and beautiful shores of the Isle of Harris.
About The Isle of Harris Distillery
The Isle of Harris Distillery is a renowned distillery located on the picturesque Isle of Harris in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. It was founded in 2011 but did not start production until 2015. It was built with a vision to create exceptional spirits that reflect the unique terroir and character of the island. The distillery is known for its commitment to craftsmanship, sustainability, and the local community.
One of the distillery's notable products is the Isle of Harris Gin, crafted using carefully selected botanicals, including local sugar kelp, along with traditional gin ingredients. The gin has gained recognition for its distinctive flavor profile and elegant presentation, featuring a beautifully designed bottle inspired by the island's natural elements.
After several years of patiently maturing their whisky, the Isle of Harris Distillery announced the forthcoming release of their inaugural single malt whisky, named The Hearach. This highly anticipated release has generated excitement among whisky enthusiasts worldwide, as it is crafted with a strong influence from the island's rugged landscape and promises complexity and character.
The distillery's commitment to sustainability is evident in their use of renewable energy, including a hydroelectric turbine, and their dedication to preserving the island's pristine environment. Additionally, they actively support local initiatives and have become an integral part of the island's cultural and economic fabric.
With their focus on quality, craftsmanship, and a deep connection to the land, the Isle of Harris Distillery has established itself as a notable name in the world of spirits, capturing the essence of the island in each bottle they produce.