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The Missing Summer.

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This island summer feels like a bit of a wash-out, so far...

As a small Outer Hebridean island sitting on the edge of the Atlantic, it's safe to say the Isle of Harris has what is known as an oceanic climate.

Our location at this higher-middle latitude means we 'enjoy' a mild and stable climate, with temperatures varying little between each passing season.

This is all good news for our whisky-making, with the absence of extreme swings in centigrade usually seen as a good thing for cask maturation.

Dark skies and grey days.

Rainwater beads on bog grasses.

And then there's the rain which falls on the high hills above Tarbert, running over the oldest rocks in the world, and feeding our water source, Abhainn Cnoc a Charrain.

Many distilleries across Scotland even experience a drought each year as the rivers run dry from Speyside to Islay and call a halt to their whisky production.

But, there's no sign of any such hiatus here in Harris as the skies stay grey and the daily deluge continues to keep the soft water flowing as we go into July.

The streams which feed our water source swell with summer rains.

Boat tour skipper Angus Campbell of Isle of Harris Sea Tours confirms…

"The weather has been just about the worst summer we can remember, but with little glimmers of the sun between the showers. So we sometimes wonder if we should go out or stay ashore.

Before adding...

"And then our passengers will appear suitably dressed in their waterproofs, sturdy boots, and even the odd woolly 'toorie', raring to go - and we do!"

Low clouds hide the hill tops.

Shrouded sea-lochs of a Harris summer.

Here at the distillery, we keep the peat fire lit throughout the season, and it's been helping to dry hundreds of dripping wet hikers and bikers as they tour our islands.

It's been unusually windy, too, adding to their fun, particularly as they head into the low cloud and mist to cross the Clisham.

But, it's clear the bad weather isn't dampening their spirits as we share samples of Isle of Harris Gin while the steam rises from their wet gear by our hearth-side.

Drying out by the distillery peat fire.

Spare a thought for the cyclists, but there's a rare dry road ahead.

On the upside, the grasses across the Harris crofts are the lushest of green, which is good news for the grazing livestock at least.

And, as the old saying goes, "Today's rain is tomorrow's whisky", a friendly reminder that every dark cloud has a silver lining and good things are inevitably on the way.

So let's raise a glass to our missing summer and have faith in the fact that if you don't like the Harris weather, just wait a minute, as things are apt to change…

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