ISLE OF HARRIS
The Isle of Harris Distillery began with a simple idea.
The inspiration came from Anderson 'Burr' Bakewell, who has been bound to this island through a long connection with nearby Scarp, and many decades of life spent among the landscapes of Harris and people of our community.
He believed that the rare and elusive spirit of this island could be captured in a bottle and shared with the world.
Over the decades Burr, like many others, noted with sadness the long-term decline in the island's population, our community's numbers having halved over the last fifty years.
As young people left our shores to seek their fortune, few were able to return to find work, set down roots and build a life in the place they called home. He believed that a distillery, built for not just years but for generations, could be a way to help stem this tide.
So, he gathered a group of like-minded individuals around him and set out on a seven year journey to bring his ambitions to reality.
September 24th 2015 saw his simple idea finally come to fruition as the doors to the Isle of Harris Distillery opened for the first time.
We wanted to create sustainable employment right from the outset of our enterprise.
Rather than import experienced distillers from elsewhere in Scotland, we chose to train local people to help us make true Harris spirits.
We found four men who had never made a drop of whisky or gin in their lives but had the drive and pride to take on this new challenge and become our island's first legal distillers.
They came from a variety of backgrounds, from time-served builder to experienced joiner, ex-policeman to former facilities manager.
Today, they make every drop of our spirits, confident in their abilities but always learning as this life-long journey in their chosen craft continues.
The distillery started life with just 10 people and an ambition to double this number over the next five years. Today, we're proud to say we employ almost 40 permanent staff, a highly significant number in an island of fewer than 2000 inhabitants.