Made by the close-knit community of Harris, every drop was distilled, matured, married and bottled on the island with little automation, by island hands. The distillers and blenders of Harris have been trained from scratch in the craft of whisky making, and are one of the youngest teams of distillers in Scotland, with an average age of 25. The distillery was built with the intention to not only bring jobs and culture to an island with a waning population, but to revive the distilling traditions that were lost during the Pabbay clearances of the 1840s.

The Hearach has been made using 100% Scottish Concerto barley, with long fermentations (between 70 and 120 hours), hands-on distillation in bespoke copper stills and maturation in hand-picked oak casks. The batches are matured for at least five years, in a combination of first-fill bourbon, Oloroso sherry and Fino butts - the majority of which are sourced from the revered Buffalo Trace distillery.

Harris believe that their water source of Abhainn Cnoc a’ Charrain is the softest of any Scottish distillery, having travelled through Lewisian gneiss (some of the oldest rocks on earth) - ensuring extremely low minerality of the water used to make The Hearach. The final gift Harris has imparted on the single malt is from the weather conditions in which it is aged. Despite the islands northerly latitude, their oceanic climate benefits from the currents of the Gulf Stream. This system keeps seasonal temperatures remarkably stable, benefitting the overall maturation process.

As the historic first whisky from Harris - this single malt does not seek to emulate any other drams or regions. Therefore, the distillery invites the first sippers of the dram to discover what a Harris whisky tastes like for themselves. The elegant flavours will be perceived differently by different people as they allow its complex character to unfold in their glass over time, so folk are encouraged to explore the scents and sensory experience of The Hearach without any official tasting notes in mind. Each batch will have a word from someone in their local community, such as this:

“ I get a gentle peat smoke on the first sip which reminds me of island home fires burning when I was growing up. It comes along with a toasted maltiness. I can also taste homemade apple sauce and smell machair flowers, particularly white clover which springs up on our west coast every summer. Mixed spices appear, and an old-fashioned sweetness from things like candied ginger, vanilla, and honeycomb. Finally, there’s a long, clotted-cream note, mixed with a lasting sense of new leather. ” Shona Macleod, Carragreich, Isle of Harris.

Pre-order now.

Read our review of the Isle of Harris gin, here.

Read Brian Wilson's Whiskeria article on The Hearach and distilling in the Outer Hebrides: A Long Time Coming, here.