Skip to main content

Isle of Harris Distillers: “The Social Distillery”

Isle-of-Harris-Gin-Bottle
Image used with permission by copyright holder


Editor’s Note: Last November we had the pleasure of spending 10 captivating days in Scotland. Below is but one adventure of many from our stay. We hope the joy we experienced comes through in all our posts and missives from our adventure, which no doubt read better with a wee dram in hand.

Located in the village Tarbert on its namesake island (located Northwest of the mainland Scotland, around 300 miles from Edinburgh), Isle of Harris Distillers is the first distillery on the island.

Nicknamed “The Social Distillery” because of the founder (and musicologist) Anderson Bakewell’s hopes to make the distillery bastion of community on the island for generations to come, Isle of Harris opened in October 2015 after seven years of planning and construction.

Their flagship product at the moment is their Isle of Harris Gin, but they’ve already got Scotch whisky in barrels, which they are hoping to release in 2018. The Scotch, which is named The Hearach, the Gaelic word for an inhabitant of Harris, is being produced at a rate of around 300,000 bottles per year. The first run will only feature 1,916 bottles, which corresponds with the number of residents on the island.

Isle-of-Harris-Gin-Bottle-2
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You may not be able to get your hands on the Scotch yet, but it is possible to try the gin, which is made by the distillery’s five distillers using nine botanicals—Juniper, Coriander, Angelica Root, Orris Root, Cubebs, Bitter Orange Peel, Licorice and Cassia Bark. The ninth ingredient, and the one that makes their gin stand out, is sugar kelp. Yes, you heard right. Kelp, as in seaweed. The sugar kelp used at Isle of Harris grows in the waters around the Outer Hebrides and is hand-harvested by a local diver by the name of Lewis Mackenzie.

[Let’s take a moment to realize that this distillery basically has its own personal diver to harvest an ingredient. From the ocean. In a part of the world where the water is anything but tropical. Think about that next time you complain about having to go out to pick up your takeout Chinese food.]

Harris-Gin-Wide
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The sea kelp is said to give their gin a distinctive coastal taste, a nod to the maritime influence on the island and its residents. These ingredients come together in the distillery’s small copper still, known as “The Dottach” to create the gin.

On the nose, the gin is juniper and pine, followed by citrus—in this case, orange, lime, and grapefruit. There’s also a distinct coastal note that comes from the sea kelp. On the palate, you’re going to find a balance of juniper and citrus fruits again, underpinned by an herbaceous quality from the kelp. Smooth and dry, it has a long and fairly clean finish.

Isle-of-Harris-Gin-2
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The ideal way to serve Isle of Harris Gin, according to the distillery, is the Harris Serve:

  • 50ml (a little more than 1.5 oz) Isle of Harris Gin
  • 3-4 drops of Sugar Kelp Aromatic Water
  • Walter Gregor’s Scottish Tonic with Quinine
  • Ice
  • Red or Pink Grapefruit

Method: Add gin, aromatic water, and tonic to glass with ice. Sitr and top with slice of grapefruit.

If you’re like us, you’re already salivating for the Scotch whiskey to come out, but the Harris Serve is a hell of a way to pass the time.

Editors' Recommendations

Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
Don’t skip this step for summer barbecues: How to clean your grill’s exterior
Know how to clean the outside of a grill so your burgers don't disappoint
Male chef grilling and barbequing in garden. Barbecue outdoor garden party. Handsome man preparing barbecue meat. Concept of eating and cooking outdoor during summer time.

Even if you don't like cooking, you'll jump to man a grill to show off your barbeque skills. But what about the cleanup after? Scraping off the food is the easy part, but when was the last time you cleaned the rest of the grill? If you have no idea, to the point you aren't sure if you ever have, put the tongs down and listen. Here's how to clean the outside of a grill so it lasts more than a few summers.
How to clean the outside of a grill

It doesn't matter what kind of grill you have; you need to know how to clean the outside of it, and you actually need to do it.
What you'll need

Read more
33 easy and delicious recipes any man can make
Breakfast, mains, sides, and more. Simple recipes to whip up
Close-up of a man holding frying pan with fresh vegetables and a wooden spoon

Being able to feed yourself is important, but being able to make a meal is impressive. Whether from an online recipe or a cookbook, these days, cooking has become a necessity and, like anything, the more you do it the better you become.

Whipping up a dish from scratch can sound daunting, and even with the help of a recipe app, it can take a lot of effort. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize that it’s cheaper, healthier, and fun. From a simple savory breakfast to a sexy night in, give takeout a break and try one of these easy recipes every man should know how to make in their lifetime.
Breakfast
Frittata

Read more
The best fried chicken recipe you will ever make
This is simply the best, and you can stop looking for this recipe now
Eating fried chicken

As you know, we love all things fried chicken. It’s the ultimate comfort food no matter the day of the week, no matter the weather. We just can’t get enough of that golden brown and delicious chicken. Keep reading, and you'll find the best fried chicken recipe ... hands down.
The history of fried chicken

Europeans were the first to fry up chicken during the Middle Ages. Fried chicken was considered an expensive delicacy until after World War II and was only served for special occasions. Scottish immigrants were the ones who introduced fried chicken to the U.S., but they didn’t use any seasonings until West Africans added spice blends into the recipe. Since then, it has been a staple in Southern cooking.

Read more