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The Blenders Pt. 1

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The new Harris blenders - Shona Macleod and Harrison Wood.

The Isle of Harris Distillery is a whisky distillery, and making whisky is at the heart of what we do. We're very proud of the Isle of Harris Gin we make, but creating a single malt worthy of bearing our island's name has driven us from the very beginning.
We are also a young distillery, and from the outset we have approached our work with an 'always learning' mindset. So much so that we decided to recruit our spirit-makers locally, transforming untrained local men and women into true Harris distillers.
After five years of life, we’re getting ever closer to realising the dream of our founder Anderson Bakewell and bringing a beautiful dram, made and matured on the island, into the world.

Shona Macleod, one of the original Tarbert Ten.

As we set out on the road towards this historic release, we are delighted to create two exciting new roles. Each is critical to that which lies ahead as we explore our final 'recipe', using the contents of the casks we've been filling and maturing since late 2016.

We have now appointed our official distillery blender and assistant blender, with Shona Macleod and Harrison ‘Harry' Wood taking on the respective titles. Both have been drawn from our existing Harris team and have begun their formal training with us.
Shona is one of the original members of the ‘Tarbert Ten’ and has been honing her tasting skills within the distillery’s sensory panel over the last few years. Harry is much newer to the world of nosing spirits but has shown great promise after undergoing all manner of olfactory assessments.

Harrison "Harry" Wood, our new assistant blender.

Shona tells us…
"We all took sensory tests to gauge our natural skills in organoleptics, nosing various unmarked compounds and giving descriptors for each. Scores are based on how accurately you describe what those scents are."
Harry continues…
"The tests also helped determine if our noses were blind to certain smells. And while it was supposed to be whisky orientated, they also threw a sneaky sample of Isle of Harris Gin into the mix just to confuse us! But it was from this testing, among other factors, they would choose the blenders."

Just one of the many cask samples being tried and tasted.

We'll dive a little deeper into their work over the coming months, but right now they are embarking on an exciting period of learning in the expert hands of our friend and flavour guru Dr Gordon Steele. Gordon will be educating and mentoring Shona and Harry in the sensory sciences throughout.
Shona enthuses…
"We're making history here in Tarbert, and it's great to play a part in that. I was really happy to be given the opportunity to work alongside Gordon and learn new skills in the whisky world. I think I’m excited and terrified in equal measures, if I'm honest!"

Our friend and flavour guru Gordon Steele.

And Harry concurs…
"Working with Gordon is both a pleasure and blessing. He has an ocean of knowledge to call upon as well as a decisive nose. Currently, we are working through some of his lecture papers, including 'The Anatomy and Physiology of the Olfactory System'. He can answer all the questions we have and leave us asking more!"
Join us soon for part 2 of their story as we discover more about the training, trials, and tasks which lie ahead for The Blenders. Meantime, many congratulations to them both as they continue to gain knowledge and grow with us here at the Harris Distillery. Make no mistake, 'The Hearach' is on its way…

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