Origin: Isle of Harris (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry
Added colouring: No
Owner: Isle of Harris Distillers ltd
Average price: € 80.00
Official website: harrisdistillery.com
There’s a wonderful book by Dave Broom, ‘A Sense of Place’, in which whisky is seen as an integral part of the land in which it’s produced in the strictest sense of the word, embracing the community that lives there and creating inextricable links with the society that often grows up around it.
The Isle of Harris Distillery represents just that, a distillery born on an island that was experiencing an inexorable haemorrhaging of inhabitants, with new generations leaving a harsh and complex reality in search of a future that their homeland could not give them.
And this is where Burr Bakewell came up with the idea of making the island attractive to its young people again, founding this ‘social distillery’ in 2015 with the intention of recreating an economic and relational fabric that would restore momentum and substance to the community, like the weave of fine tweed for which Harris is so famous.
Distilling first gin and then whisky, with the first bottling released after five years in September 2023, with the official launch in Italy the following 2 October.
Low peat levels (12-15 ppm) with raw material from the Highlands, mixed maturation in ex-Bourbon first fill casks (64% from Buffalo Trace and 21% from Heaven Hill), ex-Oloroso Sherry (11%) and ex-Sherry Fino butt (4%), with the various souls united in a sherry butt for several weeks before bottling, made in batches of around 13,000 bottles each.
Mention of honour for the well-kept packaging, designed by Stranger & Stranger, with plenty of information, something the distillery certainly does not skimp on: here you will find all the information about this batch.
On the nose, it is sweetness and mineral peat that guide the sensations, lots of fruit (peach, pear, pineapple, mango) and nuts (walnuts, almonds) with honey, toffee, sugar paste and a slight balsamic note. The pastry part tends to fade over time to give more space to the peat, whose delicate smoke acquires depth together with the mineral part.
On the palate, among the spices (pepper, ginger, cinnamon), sharper and saltier evocations make their way in, with incursions of red fruits (currants, gooseberries) and stronger vegetal notes, while the smoke remains as a guiding thread together with the lively minerality, here even more characterising. Almond, baked apple, pear, trifle and tobacco intertwine with the waves of saltiness that linger on the lips.
Not very long and dry finish of smoke, salt, vegetable and mineral notes.
A highly drinkable whisky, thanks to its savouriness and an appropriate alcohol content that encourages an agile and disengaged drink, where youth certainly doesn’t offer great complexity but can nevertheless offer good balance and a character that is still in its infancy but promises to explode in some time.