Isle of Harris Distillery logo.

Isle of Harris Distillery

  • Scotland
  • Scottish Gin Distillery of the Year, Gold at the World Gin Awards 2021, Spirits Masters Award:
Phone Number
  • +441859502212
  • Tarbert, Isle of Harris HS3 3DJ, United Kingdom

Isle of Harris Distillery with rocky foreground and hills.

History of Isle of Harris Distillery 

The Isle of Harris Distillery, established in 2015, is the first commercial distillery on the Isle of Harris, Scotland. The visionary behind this pioneering project was musicologist Anderson Bakewell, who was deeply concerned about the declining population of Harris.

His aim was to create a sustainable business that would provide long-term employment opportunities for the residents of Harris and involve the local community in its operations.

The distillery, located in the island’s capital, Tarbert, was funded by the largest public grant awarded to a food and drink business in Scottish history, along with further grants and private investments from around the world.

Simon Erlanger, former Glenmorangie director, played a key role in the distillery’s development as the managing director.

Isle of Harris Distillers is renowned for its production of Harris Gin and the much-anticipated single malt Scotch whisky, The Hearach. The gin, which is the distillery’s first product, is noted for its unique use of sugar kelp, adding a distinctive maritime character.

The whisky, named after the Gaelic word for a Harris islander, is expected to be a full-bodied, fruity spirit with a touch of salty, windswept Hebridean character.

The distillery’s commitment to local sustainability is evident in its practices, such as feeding the island’s cows on the distillery’s draff and offering work experience placements to school children.

The Isle of Harris Distillery stands out as a ‘social distillery’, deeply embedded in the local community, providing an economic boost and reviving the island’s spirit-making tradition.

Awards Won by Isle of Harris Distillery 

  • Scottish Gin Distillery of the Year: The distillery has been honoured with this prestigious title twice at the Scottish Gin Awards, demonstrating its exceptional quality and prominence in the Scottish gin industry​​.
  • Gold at the World Gin Awards 2021: The Isle of Harris Gin won the Gold award in the London Dry Gin taste category at the World Gin Awards 2021, a significant international recognition​​​​.
  • Excellence in Branding Award: At the Scottish Gin Awards, the distillery was recognised for its outstanding branding efforts, reflecting its strong identity and marketing strategies​​.
  • Best Digital Experience Award: Also at the Scottish Gin Awards, the distillery received an award for its digital experience, showcasing its innovative approach to engaging with customers and audiences online​​.
  • Spirits Masters Award: The distillery’s gin was also honoured with a Spirits Masters Award, further cementing its reputation for high-quality spirit production​​.

Isle of Harris Distillery Tour Information and Experience

The Isle of Harris Distillery offers a unique tour experience, inviting visitors to explore the heart of their whisky and gin distilling operations. The tours are guided by knowledgeable local staff, providing an intimate look into the distillery’s processes and the stories behind their spirits.

Tour Details

  • Pricing: Adults and children aged 12-17 are charged £17.50 each.
  • Experience: Visitors can discover the stories behind The Hearach single malt whisky, sample award-winning whisky and gin, and enjoy additional treats.
  • Age Restriction: Children under 12 are not permitted on the tour for health and safety reasons.
  • Cancellation Policy: Full refunds are available 24 hours before the tour starts, refunded to the original payment method. No refunds for cancellations made after this period.
  • Rescheduling: Due to high demand, especially in peak season, rescheduling cannot be guaranteed. To change tour times, one must cancel the current booking and rebook.

Flask & Barrel Review of Isle of Harris Distillery 

As a seasoned whisky collector who’s been around the block with distillery tours, the Isle of Harris Distillery stands out. Here’s my take on it, a solid 4.7 out of 5.

First off, the location is nothing short of breathtaking. Nestled in the serene Isle of Harris, it’s like stepping into a postcard. The rugged, natural beauty of the island adds a whole other layer to the experience.

Now, onto the main event – the whisky and gin. The Isle of Harris Gin is a showstopper. The use of Sugar kelp gives it this unique maritime flavour that’s both refreshing and intriguing. It’s like capturing the essence of the Hebrides in a bottle.

The anticipation for their whisky, The Hearach, is high on my list. The idea that it’s fully matured on the island, promising a full-bodied, fruity profile with a hint of that salty, Hebridean character, excites me.

The distillery tour itself was top-notch. What I appreciated most was how community-focused the whole operation is.

It’s not just about crafting spirits, but also about sustaining and invigorating the local community. Feeding the cows on the distillery’s draff and offering work experience to local kids – it’s all part of their charm.

The staff were knowledgeable and passionate, making the whole experience feel personal and engaging. It wasn’t just a tour; it felt like a journey through the history and heart of the island.

My only tiny gripe? I wished the tasting session was more extensive, especially considering my deep interest in whisky. But that’s me being a bit nitpicky.

In conclusion, the Isle of Harris Distillery is more than just a distillery. It’s a testament to community spirit, a celebration of local heritage, and a beacon of sustainability, all wrapped in an unforgettable scenic package. It is a must-visit for any whisky enthusiast.

What To Do Nearby Isle of Harris Distillery 

  • Gearrannan Blackhouse Village: Dive into the past at this restored village that showcases life in the 1950s. You can even stay overnight in hostel-style rooms or family accommodations. It’s a great place to stretch your legs with walks to Dalmore and Dalbeg beaches.
  • Dun Carloway Broch: This well-preserved Iron Age structure offers a glimpse into ancient Scotland. It’s an easy walk from the car park, and the visitor center provides insights into life during the Broch era.
  • Callanish Standing Stones: Older than Stonehenge, these Neolithic stones are wrapped in mystery and magic. They are a must-see for their historical significance and mystical atmosphere.
  • Harris Tweed Shop: Learn about the famous Harris Tweed, which must meet rigorous standards to earn its name. Enjoy live demonstrations and maybe try your hand at weaving.
  • MacLeod Stone: This standing stone atop a hill offers spectacular views. The hike is not too difficult, and the scenery is worth every step.
  • Northton Salt Marsh: A quick pit stop here offers fascinating landscapes. It’s right by the road, so it’s easy to fit into your itinerary.
  • St. Clemens Church in Rodel: Known as the grandest medieval building in the Western Isles, it’s a beautiful gothic structure with historical significance, especially for the MacLeods of Harris.
  • The Golden Road: A scenic drive along Harris’s east coast, this road takes you through small towns, dramatic coastal views, and sparkling lakes. It’s a chance to enjoy the island’s beauty at a leisurely pace.
  • Remote Beaches of Isle of Harris: With beaches that rival the Caribbean, places like Luskentyre Beach are a must-visit for their clear turquoise seas and bright white sands.
  • Isle of Taransay: Just off Luskentyre Beach, this island is full of history and nature. You can book a boat trip to explore its rich past and vibrant wildlife.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Isle of Harris Distillery?

  • Pierhouse Cafe And Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can contact them on their phone at +441859502364. Their address is Pier Rd, Tarbert, Isle of Harris HS3 3DG, United Kingdom.
  • Flavour: This restaurant has a rating of 5.0 stars on Google Maps. You can contact them for reservations at +447388366361. Their address is Unit 1, lomairt an obain, Tarbert, Isle of Harris HS3 3DS, United Kingdom.
  • Lorna’s Larder: It has a rating of 4.9 stars on Google Maps. For more information or reservations, their contact number is +447740918795. The address is at the marina, Tarbert HS3 3DJ, United Kingdom.

What hotels are near Isle of Harris Distillery?

  • Hotel Hebrides: It has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. For reservations, you can contact them at +441859502364. Their address is Pier Rd, Tarbert, Isle of Harris HS3 3DG, United Kingdom.
  • Harris Hotel: This hotel has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps. You can reach them for reservations at +441859502154. The hotel is at Scott Rd, Tarbert, Isle of Harris HS3 3DL, United Kingdom.
  • Tigh Gorm: It has a rating of 5.0 stars on Google Maps. The address is Main St, Tarbert, Isle of Harris HS3 3DJ, United Kingdom.