At the beginning of November 2018 we were proud to announce our first distilling apprenticeship as we welcomed young local woman Rebekah Morrison to the team.
Since then, Rebekah has been slowly but surely getting to grips with distillery life, working in different areas of our production process and settling in to her new routines.
Often, this work is far from the glamour of the glowing copper stills. The work of a Harris distiller is a multi-faceted one and bottling and boxing orders of our island spirit can often be part of the job.
But, at the heart of their role is time well spent in the Spirit Hall where we make the Isle of Harris Gin and spirit for The Hearach single malt whisky.
Here, in this bright white space with windows overlooking the seas of East Loch Tarbert sits ‘Eva’ our spirit still and ‘The Dottach’, our gin still named after a fiesty and fiery island woman.
Earlier this week we introduced Rebekah to these beautiful, bright and burnished copper girls for the beginning of what we trust will be a long and lasting relationship.
After a brief hiatus in our Isle of Harris Gin production, on hold while we installed our three new washbacks, it was time to make our first gin batch of 2019…
So, what better time to really begin Rebekah’s spirit-making journey and let her get hands on with the challenging complexities of gin distillation.
On Wednesday morning, under the guidance and watchful eye of our fifth distiller Norman Iain Mackay, the learning process got underway in earnest.
With botanicals carefully weighed and macerated, the wee copper gin still was brought to life. There were valves to open and levers to pull, gauges to pour over and dial readings to digest
With the temperature and pressure rising, we left Norman and Rebekah to concentrate on their tasks to hand, leaving teacher and student alone among clouds of steam.
The next day, the fruits of their labour were filling our beautiful bottles. Our first Isle of Harris Gin batch of the year had been made, and by the hands of our first island apprentice.
It was another of those quietly momentous moments we so often find ourselves enjoying at this early stage in our distillery story. And, these are the moments in time we always try to mark.
So, as Rebekah set to work committing this historic batch to glass, her fellow distillers joined her to create a small momento, each of them signing their names on the label of a single bottle.
It was a simple gesture but as the years go by, and many more local men and women come to call themselves Harris distillers, it will be a fine way to remember Rebekah’s first batch.