Harris Distillery wins again in all Hebridean final of Scottish Gin Awards

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The Isle of Harris Distillery has won three awards at the Scottish Gin Awards, including the top title of Scottish Gin Distillery of the Year – for the second time.

Harris clinched the prize in an all-island final with three other Hebridean distilleries: Isle of Barra Distillers, Isle of Skye Distillers, and North Uist Distillery Co.

Harris Gin also picked up the Excellence in Branding and Best Digital Experience awards.

Isle of Barra Gin Distillery won Sales Team of the Year, in a final against Jura’s Lussa Gin. Colonsay Beverages was also a runner-up in Excellence in Social Media.

Adam Hardie, chair of the 2021 Scottish Gin Awards, said: ‘Scotland has a world class record in gin distilling and production and these awards recognise those businesses which, despite the odds, are really at the top of their game.

‘This year, the Scottish gin industry has shown resilience, innovation, and creativity.’

Gin continues to experience record high sales, totalling over £2 billion in the year ending March 2021. £1.2 billion of these sales were made in shops, supermarkets and online.

Most distilleries have weathered the storm of the pandemic, experiencing increases in online sales while sales in the off-trade have declined with lockdown.

Simon Erlanger, the managing director of the Isle of Harris Distillery, said: ‘When we set out to create the first legal distillery on Harris a few years back, it never occurred to us that we would become Scotland’s best gin distillery.

‘So, to win this title twice is absolutely incredible, especially in the company of so many great Scottish gins. Our team and the whole island are feeling incredibly proud.’

The Isle of Harris Distillery, or the Social Distillery as it is often referred to, was opened in October 2015, in the small harbour village of Tarbert.

The distillery was the vision of Anderson ‘Burr’ Bakewell, a man who has been connected to the island for many years.

He wanted to create something that would provide employment for generations to come by sharing this special place with the world.

The Isle of Harris Distillery’s main purpose is to create jobs, support the fragile local economy and address issues surrounding population decline in the Outer Hebrides.

During the 1950s there were over 4,000 people living on Harris, today there are less than half that, with numbers continuing to show a decline over the long-term.

Five local distillers and two young apprentice distillers, trained from scratch in their craft, make a single malt whisky and an Outer Hebridean gin.

A team of more than 30 full-time staff help create the beautiful spirits and welcome visitors from all over the world.

The distillery now provides secure employment and gives people a reason to remain in Harris to live and work.

The award-winning Isle of Harris Gin is the distillery’s inaugural spirit, distilled in Tarbert in a small copper gin still, known as ‘The Dottach’.

Juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, cubebs, bitter orange peel, liquorice and cassia bark all play their role in defining the taste of the gin, but it is sugar kelp that marks out this spirit.

Sustainably harvested by a local diver from around the seas of the Outer Hebrides, the sugar kelp creates subtle coastal notes.

The distillers discard, instead of recycling, the ‘heads’ and ‘tails’ of the spirit run, leaving only the best of the distillate’s ‘heart’ helping to create an exceptional smoothness.

While its new-make spirit matures into a single malt whisky, the inaugural Isle of Harris Gin has already become a huge success, inspiring an enthusiastic following of gin-lovers and exceeding all sales expectations.