The Isle of Harris Distillers has launched its long-awaited single malt Scotch whisky.

The Hearach – the Scottish Gaelic for a native of Harris – will be available to purchase from 23 September.

The first legal dram from the Outer Hebridean Isle of Harris, The Hearach offers an elegant single malt, with fruit and floral notes and a long, slightly smoky, finish.

The whisky, handcrafted by a team of locals from Harris, has been distilled, matured – in first-fill bourbon, oloroso and fino sherry casks – married and bottled at 46% ABV on the island.

Distillers describe it as ‘complex and utterly delicious’, reflecting in part its use of the softest of water and the Harris climate, second to none for the maturation of spirit.

There will be eight batches in the first release. Around 6,000 bottles from Batch 1 and 3,000 bottles of each of the other batches will be made available.

We’ve always said that the whisky would be ready when it’s ready, so it’s a big moment to finally announce the launch of The Hearach, which will be on the distillery’s eighth birthday,’ said Simon Erlanger, managing director.

‘Eight years ago, we hosted the biggest ceilidh the island has seen – at this one we’ll have a historic dram to toast the island with.

‘We’re looking forward to sharing more of the flavour of Harris with consumers across the world – from those who already know and love our gin, to those who are new to the brand.’

Conceived by Anderson Bakewell, who has a 50-year relationship with Harris, the distillery opened in 2015 to act as a symbol of hope and optimism for the Harris community – creating sustainable jobs for local people and supporting the wider island economy for generations to come.

Starting life with a team of just 10 locals, today the distillery family numbers some 48 full-time staff.

The Hearach single malt whisky, supported by Isle of Harris Gin, will enable the distillery to continue supporting the local community and provide exciting job opportunities for islanders.

Shona Macleod, blender at the Isle of Harris Distillery, said on the taste of The Hearach: ‘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.’

Live Gaelic singing performances marked the occasion, alongside speeches from the team, before the first dram was tasted.

Purchasers will be able to acquire one bottle from each of the eight batches online, via the Harris Distillery website, and in person at the distillery itself, at a UK RRP of £65.

The whisky will then be made available from October in specialist retailers and bars across the UK and in over 20 countries globally.

Read more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s food and drink pages, in association with Cask & Still magazine.

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