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The 'Harris Peat' Cask Offer 2020

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Stephen Passmore weilding a traditional tarasgeir.

Those of you who have followed our story closely, or taken a tour with us here in Tarbert, will be aware we have a number of privately owned casks of whisky stored on-site and at our warehouse in Ardhasaig.

Bought for non-commercial use by both individuals and collectives, these beautiful oak barrels are intended purely for personal pleasure and to be enjoyed by whisky fans, families and friends from across the world.

For 2020 we have decided to release an extra-special allocation of these private casks.

Just 50 first-fill ex-bourbon barrels will be filled with a ‘heavily peated’ new make spirit distilled from malted barley made using peat which has been cut, stacked and dried on the Isle of Harris.

Head Distiller Kenny Maclean at the peat bank, South Harris.

So what exactly is peat?

Just below a surface of sphagnum moss and heather, the barren moors of these islands hold a hidden secret. In these wet and waterlogged lands, dead plants decompose very slowly, often over thousands of years.

The result is a dense, damp organic material which is thick and heavy enough to be sliced into slabs by a special hand-tool know in Scottish Gaelic as a Tairsgear. It’s labourious, back-breaking work but when dry it will reward the harvesters with plenty of free fuel for their home fires come winter.

But for the distiller, peat serves another, more spiritual purpose as they burn it to dry the malted barley used to make their whisky. The wonderful smell from the smoke is imparted to the grain, which in turn passes to the spirit and eventually brings that legendary aroma of peat fire to the final dram.

Taking a break from the back-breaking work.

The make-up of peat varies greatly from place to place and therefore the flavour it imparts to the barley and resultant spirit will also vary. This new limited batch will, therefore, possess unique island characteristics in addition to those contributed by each individual cask.

Whilst more heavily peated at 40 ppm (parts per million phenols) compared to our core spirit (circa 15 ppm), we should anticipate a well-balanced and robust spirit with a strong peated character but still allowing other flavours to be experienced.

The peats we use will be cut locally by our own distillers in the springtime and left to dry over the summer, before being sent to our maltster on the mainland.

Some of the private casks in our on-site warehouse.

It will only be towards the end of the year that we will turn this limited quantity of peated malt into the spirit which will fill the casks. Strictly limited to 50 barrels, these will be allocated, 1 per person or group, on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Maturation will take place entirely on the Isle of Harris and when the owner decides that the whisky is ready, it will be bottled by us on the island. So true Harris provenance from start to finish.

The casks are available to purchase now at a cost of £3,250, with a £1,500 deposit required to reserve your allocation.*

To apply, full details along with Terms & Conditions can be requested by emailing alexander.macleod@harrisdistillery.com **

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* At the time of bottling, taxes, duties and bottling charges will also be payable.
** All enquiries will be dealt with in chronological order from Monday 17th February onwards. Due to expected high demand, your patience is appreciated.