OUR ISLAND Distillery
WITH THE FUTURE OF HARRIS AT ITS HEART
FOR, WITH, AND FROM THE ISLE OF HARRIS
OUR ISLAND STORY BEGINS
The Isle of Harris Distillery began with a simple idea.
The inspiration came from Anderson 'Burr' Bakewell, who has been bound to this island through a long connection with nearby Scarp, and many decades of life spent among the landscapes of Harris and people of our community.
He believed that the rare and elusive spirit of this island could be captured in a bottle and shared with the world.
Over the decades Burr, like many others, noted with sadness the long-term decline in the island's population, our community's numbers having halved over the last fifty years.
As young people left our shores to seek their fortune, few were able to return to find work, set down roots and build a life in the place they called home. He believed that a distillery, built for not just years but for generations, could be a way to help stem this tide.
So, he gathered a group of like-minded individuals around him and set out on a seven year journey to bring his ambitions to reality.
September 24th 2015 saw his simple idea finally come to fruition as the doors to the Isle of Harris Distillery opened for the first time.
That day, we gathered to light an inaugural fire in our distillery hearth. Three generations of Hearaich, the Gaelic word for the people of Harris, each placed a fàd, or block, of peat on the blaze to mark the occasion.
We then threw the largest ceilidh the island had ever seen with hundreds of our fellow islanders joining us in the cask warehouse for a night of music, dancing and song, as the first of our island spirit flowed.
The distillery started life with just 10 people and an ambition to double this number over the next five years. Today, we're proud to say we employ almost 40 permanent staff, a highly significant number in an island of fewer than 2000 inhabitants.
In these early days of our history, it is clear that Burr's vision is already making a real difference here in the Isle of Harris.
As a catalyst for positive change within our community, we continue to work with purpose, bringing new life to our island and supporting its aspirations to survive and thrive as we move forward together to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
"Far am bi toil, bidh gnìomh..."
CONNECTING YOU TO OUR COMMUNITY
Connection is everything to us here in the Isle of Harris.
Our location off the far northwest edge of Scotland means we often rely on each other to get by and get things done.
Despite our many scattered villages we are a close-knit community, bound together by a love of this special place, traditions, history, language and culture as well as the confines of our shared geography.
Everybody knows their neighbour and no-one is shy to lend a hand or shoulder to lean on when needed.
It is an approach to life we love to bring to others, whether here in Harris or far from our shores.
Those who join us at the distillery will always receive a genuine Outer Hebridean welcome as we seek to share our spirit and story and learn more about others in return.
A burning peat fire, lit daily in the heart of our distillery, symbolises this deep sense of warmth and hospitality.
And, for those connecting with us online we extend the same values of familiarity and friendship as we reach out to the wider world through our ambassadors, social media and online storytelling.
As time goes by, we hope you'll be inspired to learn more about our work and wider island story and feel part of our plans.
Open, straight and true in all that we do, we hope we can share the things which bind us all together, no matter where we choose to call home.
"Ceud mìle fàilte!"
FROM TIME TO TIME, BE HERE
ISLANDERS KNOW THAT LIFE TAKES TIME
The pace of life is a little different in the Isle of Harris...
We are immersed in nature, with all its elemental wind, waves and wide skies, a rollercoaster for the senses found among mountain, moor and machair.
In summer, the days stretch so long that the sun barely dips below the horizon, while months of long winter darkness brings a blanket of stars and dancing aurora high above.
The weather here is unpredictable with marine green seas and bright blue skies suddenly giving way to clouds of ominous grey and horizontal rains.
And when the storms roll in, we often find ourselves cut off from the rest of the world as ferries stay safely tied at harbour and local shop shelves run dry of fresh supplies.
All this leads to a life where making hard and fast plans feels foolish and a deeper sense of patience tends to prevail.
It's an attitude we try to bring to our work here at the Isle of Harris Distillery.
Our whisky mashing is slow and gentle and our fermentations are long. We prefer to do things well rather than do them rushed. And, we rest from our work on Sundays to spend time in fellowship with friends and family.
The modern world may strive to be 24/7 and 'always on' but here in Harris such things simply don't apply.
With an appreciation of the past and an eye on the future, please join us in the spirit of enjoying the moment and the rare chance it affords us to just 'be'...
"Am fear a bhios fad aig an aiseig gheibh e thairis uaireigin."
"We couldn’t have done this without the support of Harris and the people of the whole island. The distillery can be a showcase for Harris around the world. It is a ground of hope here on the shores of East Loch Tarbert."Anderson 'Burr' Bakewell, Founder of the Isle of Harris Distillery
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