Experience Scottish Gin

At Isle of Harris Distillers, home to Isle of Harris Gin.

Published: 15th November 2019

Our Experience Scottish Gin feature series discovers Scotland’s gin makers who offer a Scottish Gin experience. As the popularity of Scottish Gin continues to grow and the number of visitors to Scotland grows year on year, there’s never been a better time to experience Scottish Gin for yourself. From distillery tours and gin and food pairing experiences to gin making and distillation schools, the number of experiences is diverse, guaranteeing there’s a Scottish Gin experience out there for you to discover and enjoy.

Established in 2015, the Isle of Harris Distillery has become well known for its elemental, rippled aqua blue bottle and of course its Isle of Harris Gin. Like most of Scotland’s islands, one of the biggest threats to the island has been depopulation due to a variety of factors including employment opportunities. The purpose of the distillery was always about more than just producing fantastic Scottish spirits including whisky, which is currently ageing in a number of casks, but also to create a business and brand that would create long term jobs. Something the local community could be part of and be proud of. A business that could create its own place in the island’s rich history. We visited earlier this year and caught up with Shona Maclennan to learn more about about the Isle of Harris distillery experience.

Where is your Scottish gin experience based?

The Isle of Harris Distillery is situated on the Outer Hebridean island of Harris on the west coast of Scotland. It is in the village of Tarbert, by the shores of east loch Tarbert that we are distilling, bottling and shipping island spirits. 

What does your Scottish gin experience consist of?

Our distillery tours are led by knowledgeable local guides and run from March to October where we aim to deepen our storytelling and provide an in-depth flavour tour to every guest that joins us.

Tours begin within the charred oak walls of our flavour room where our guests are guided through a tasting of our new make spirit with our Harris Tweed abacus used as a visual reference to the flavour profile of our spirit.

Guests are then invited to the upper level of our distillery to get hands-on with our elements table. From handling copper to tasting the nine botanicals found in our Isle of Harris Gin. There’s also a bit of fun to be had for our young guests and those young at heart through a tasting of Jelly Beans, used to reinforce the flavours found within our spirit. 

Although a working distillery, we invite guests in to witness the magic of the still room where we are distilling new make spirit daily as well as our Isle of Harris Gin three times a week.

The tour concludes in the on-site warehouse, which is home to our private casks. From here our guests can also gain a deeper insight into the bottling and packaging, which takes place on-site. 

How long does your average Scottish gin experience last? 

Distillery tours are approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, but our staff are always happy to spend extra time answering questions both during and after the tour.

What are some of the best bits of your Scottish gin experience?

We pride ourselves in offering a hands-on, sensory experience learning about the spirits distilled here in Harris. And although we are very much a working distillery, we always want our guests to make a Harris connection through our local tour guides or Hearach distillers. 

How many people can take part in your Scottish gin experience? 

During our busiest months of the summer we run six tours a day with maximum space for 11 guests to join each one. 

What is the feedback from visitors?

We are always very grateful to receive all feedback on our distillery tours as well as the overall distillery experience. We continue to hear of many guests commenting on their enjoyment of the distillery tour and clear passion that comes across from our tour guides. 

How can visitors make a booking? 

Guests can book a distillery tour either by giving us a call on 01859 502212 Monday to Friday, sending an email to info@harrisdistillery.com or through social media. Tours are now closed for the winter season but we encourage visitors to plan for next year, when they start again in March. Meantime, we’re still open Monday-Saturday where visitors can enjoy our shop, cafe and open fire in the heart of the distillery.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about your Scottish gin experience? 

Our tours can be extremely busy during the summer months however our team are always happy to share more of our spirit and story with every guest that walks through our doors.

Our peat fire burns strong all year round and welcomes guests into our island distillery. It is also possible to sample our island spirit in the distillery shop and a member of the team will happily share the botanicals used to create Isle of Harris Gin.

The distillery canteen is also open all year-round Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4.30pm where guests are invited to join us for a hearty bowl of soup, home baked treats, local seafood and Scottish cheese alongside freshly ground coffee and distillery blend tea and of course our very own Outer Hebridean spirit. 

Do you think Scottish gin experiences are an important part of the story of Scottish gin? 

Absolutely. We’re always looking to share our story with guests through social media and in person here in Harris. When guests join a distillery tour, we believe the story comes alive and guests can really gain a deeper understanding of the purpose behind the distillery.  

What are some of the other attractions in your local area that you would recommend visitors check out? 

Many people know Harris for its beautiful cloth, Harris Tweed, and whilst visiting Tarbert we highly recommend exploring the range of products available at our neighbours in the Harris Tweed shop here in Tarbert. 

The island is also well known for its beautiful scenery, golden beaches and crystal-clear waters. We highly recommend exploring our land, taking a walk along our coastline and roaming the rugged hills of our island home. 

Learn more about Isle of Harris Distillers here.

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