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A taste of spring

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A new season is upon us, at least meteorologically speaking, and life here in Harris begins to change once more. The equinox is still a week away, but we’re already feeling a spring in our step.

The weather, however, remains decidedly fixed in winter, with March coming in like a lion with Storm Gareth, but hopefully going out like a lamb before too long.

The traditional cold snap of April is also still on the horizon. As local sheep-keeping crofters will attest, the sneachd beag nan uan or ‘small snow of the lambs’ often greets their new arrivals but thankfully rarely lasts.

Here at the distillery, we’re looking forward to new arrivals of our own as the annual influx of holidaymakers begins to become apparent. So in preparation, our Canteen will be launching its new menu on April 1st

Looked after by Kate Preston, this convivial corner of our distillery is a gathering place for staff, locals and visitors alike. There are communal tables, Harris Tweed chairs and lots of delicious dishes and drinks to enjoy.

Kate takes her food offering seriously and strives to use the best local and seasonal ingredients wherever possible. She tells us…

“Supporting local business is at the forefront of all that we do. And, being ‘enemies of average’, I also try to source the highest quality from all the producers that we work with.”

At the heart of the Canteen menu is our hearty soups, made fresh to our own recipes by young Joanna Macaskill every morning. A vegetarian and more carnivorous option is served piping hot with thick slices of bloomer bread and oatcakes, both baked locally by our friend Mairi Mackenzie. 

Mairi also makes all the beautiful home-baking which lines the Canteen counters, from traditional shortbread and scones to carefully iced cakes and sticky chocolate brownies, so there’s always something to satisfy a sweet tooth. 

We also have three new plates for those who want to sample something a little more savoury…

Kate’s Seafood Plate serves up local langoustines caught by Murdo Ewen and Finlay Macleod of Scalpay Shellfish. These join the Hebridean staples of marinated herring and smoked mackerel and are set off with an Isle of Harris Gin laced tartare sauce.

Smoked Salmon pate makes a return, double-smoked over embers in a seasoned brick kiln by nearby Stornoway Smokehouse. This is served alongside a potato salad with whole grain mustard from South Harris artisan MustHeb and our own oatcakes

Kate goes on...

“I wanted to showcase local produce as much as possible and try to find little connections to our own work, for example using sherry to enhance the herring as we use sherry casks in our whisky making too.”

Finally, we have a Scottish cheeseboard to round things off, featuring traditional Black Crowdie, Connage Highland Brie, Strathdon Blue and Stornoway Smoked Cheddar accompanied by red onion chutney and Mairi's bread or oatcakes.

There are also lots of good things to drink, including our new blend of coffee made in collaboration with Glasgow’s Dear Green Coffee with notes of chocolate, cherry, hazelnut and brown sugar.

And for those looking for something a little stronger we have Scottish craft IPAs from our friends at Wasted Degrees in Pitlochry, and a choice of Isle of Harris Gin serves including the Harris #3 Martini made with Wermod Great British Vermouth from Edinburgh.

So, there are lots to entice our guests and visitors this season, especially with the new tour schedulesunderway. We’re all set to give a most hospitable Harris welcome to many more new people as they enjoy their first taste of the Social Distillery this spring, and we hope you can join us this year too if you can.

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