TV series follows year in the life of Hebridean gin distillery
A DECADE ago islanders on Harris laid out ambitious plans to open a gin distillery.
Now after overcoming severe weather and other problems that would have crushed most people’s plans, their distillery is thriving thanks partly to the newfound popularity of a drink that was once known as “mother’s ruin”.
A new BBC Alba series is to provide a fascinating insight on the maiden year of the acclaimed Harris distillery, a facility which was seven years in the planning and took two years to build before finally opening its doors in September 2015.
The story follows the “Tarbert Ten” – the founding staff of the distillery – during the first year of production of its acclaimed Harris Gin and Hearach Whisky.
While the first batch of Hearach Whisky – named after the Gaelic for Harris – is not expected to go on sale until 2019, its first batch of sugar kelp-infused gin was so popular that the distillery had to ration customers to one bottle each in August supplies ran low.
Among the stars of the show are Kenny Maclean, the head distiller and production manager, distiller Domhnall Macleod, and Peter Kwasniewski, the distillery retail manager who is originally from Poland.
With sales exceeding expectations, visitor numbers have also gone through the roof with 60,000 local and tourists through the doors during the first year.
Meanwhile, work continues to tweak and fine tune the Hearach Whisky distillate. as
Casks are filled weekly and then sent off site to a bonded warehouse by the sea where the whisky will mature for a minimum of three years.
Simon Erlanger, managing director at Isle of Harris Distillers, said: “The programmes capture the challenging times, when a full-on Hebridean winter and the remote island location caused delays to construction.
“It also documents the big milestones: the arrival of our stills after their journey from Siena, the first spirit production and the opening of our doors to the public in September 2015.
“Fifteen months on, Kenny has been able to capture the extraordinary success of our Isle of Harris gin and the gratifying reaction of the other islanders and tourists when they visit the distillery.
“He has also followed the team as it blossomed from the original ‘Tarbert Ten’ to the 18 we employ today.”
A Little Drop of Harris will be broadcast over three nights from December 31 to January 2 on BBC Alba.