From The Sea
ISLE OF HARRIS GIN IS FROM THE SEA
REFRESHING COMPLEX MARITIME FLAVOURS
Our island spirit is made with local Sugar kelp seaweed which helps to bring a subtle complexity to the gin.
It tends to bring bring a salty, almost umami flavour to our spirit, with a slight green underlying note. It also complements our other key flavours to create a well-balanced flavour spectrum in our Harris Gin.
Sandra from our team is responsible for quality checking each batch of Isle of Harris Gin to ensure every drop is at its best before we bottle it.
" The Sugar kelp bring a real sense of connection because no matter where in the world you are, if you have visited the Isle of Harris before, that first sip of gin will most definitely transport you back to coastal times spent here." - Sandy Fraser, Isle of Harris Distillery.
MEET THE KELP MAN
In Spring each year, the golden-green Sugar Kelp fronds become ready for harvesting by hand, carefully picked from our Outer Hebridean sea lochs, blemish-free and at their best for making our Isle of Harris Gin.
We entrust this task to one man, our friend and distillery diver Lewis Mackenzie, who selects every piece of this special seaweed from his secret underwater forests.
In his black and red dry suit he cuts a superheroic figure in the shores of Loch Erisort, so much so that we nicknamed The Kelp Man.
With only 7mm of neoprene to keep the cold waters at bay, Lewis collects the kelp by himself, free-diving during a two-hour window on either side of the fortnightly low spring tides.
“My boat is anchored over the harvest site and I roll into the sea with mesh bags into which the fronds of kelp are placed. After a couple of hours in the water, I'm ready to get back into the boat where after a coffee, the bags are emptied and the seaweed carefully cleaned.”
After 30 years of diving, he remains impressively enthusiastic about taking the cold plunge in pursuit of these wonderful, savoury-sweet plants.
“Every day is still an adventure. Yes, it's cold, wet, uncomfortable, but you learn to blank these out, and the sights to be seen underwater around the Outer Hebrides more than compensates for a drop or two cold water down my neck..."
A HISTORY OF SEAWEED
Our island has a long and fascinating history of seaweed use, full of highs and lows.
The long narrow strips of croft land are testament to the importance of allowing every family access to a small portion of the shoreline from which to gather this important plant.
Seaweed would be used to feed livestock and would be applied to the soil to provide much needed nutrients for growing root vegetables. Sometimes it would be rotted down and dug in, other times simply washed and applied directly to the ground.
During the Napoleonic wars a huge industry spring up around the harvest and burning of kelp to make potash, a vital ingredient for things like gunpowder and soap.
Today, seaweed is gathered in a much more sustainable fashion, and used for health and beauty prodcuts, as a delicious ingredient for high-end restaurants, as well as in our own Isle of Harris Gin.
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