The seasons have turned once more, as we leave a very wet summer behind and look forward to the prospect of better days here in the Isle of Harris, at least for a short while.
While we are never guaranteed anything, this time of year often brings pleasures of its own...
Sunrises seem to be the first sign of change, as we wake to find the morning sky ablaze. It’s something our early-rising distillers will notice from the windows of our east-facing Spirit Hall as they start their working day.
The days are shortening swiftly too with the sun-setting not long after seven pm, bringing the blessing of black skies and a blanket of stars when the clouds finally clear. And, with darker nights comes a rare promise to see the northern lights of the Fir Chlis.
With all the rain we’ve endured after one of the wettest summers on record, the grasses of mountains and moor remain a lush green. Good news for local livestock who lazily graze across crofts and hills.
But, the ferns are fading and the heather is losing its purple bloom, the machair flowers dwindle and the few trees we have are beginning to turn to red, russet and gold.
Birds which have spent the breeding season in the higher parts of the northern hemisphere migrate overhead, heading south for the winter, many stopping off with us en route. Others, like the Great Skua, will be leaving our own shores, bound for the warmer climes of North Africa.
The last of the summer’s bounty of mackerel and herring is being enjoyed by the local cetaceans and seals. The latter are often seen lounging on in-shore rocks, backs bent like bananas, enjoying the last warm rays of the sun while they still can.
Nearby, our Sugar Kelp diver Lewis Mackenzie can be spotted piloting his small boat, pulling up a lobster pot or two and gathering what we need to see our Isle of Harris Gin through the winter. During the colder months, he leaves the seaweed to rest and regrow ensuring a sustainable harvest.
Here at the distillery, we can sense the season change too, as the number of visitors eases after a very busy few months. Our Tour times will change in October and soon the Canteen soups will feel heartier as the peat fire blazes high.
But, no matter what time of year it is, our distilling remains undaunted and we’re always working hard, making our gin and filling oak casks of new-make whisky spirit.
We recently took delivery of some more beautiful Oloroso casks from Spain and in return shipped lots of Isle of Harris Gin to Switzerland, France, Italy, and New Zealand.
The team here in Tarbert remain busy sharing our spirit and story and extending a warm Harris welcome to everyone who continues to join us at the distillery.
Our ambassadors do likewise far from our shores, and if you happen to be in London this weekend, look out for our special Seafood Supper and gin tasting at The Cleveland Arms.
But, if you can’t be with us in person please stay in touch across our social media channels. Meantime, let’s raise a glass to this fine time of year, as our island calendar continues to unfold.