A NEW single malt whisky is to be distilled on Harris, in a first for the island recently voted as the best in Europe.
The new single malt will be distilled, matured and bottled at a new distillery being built in Tarbet on the Hebridean island, noted for its strict observance of the Sunday sabbath.
Around 300,000 bottles of the malt, called The Hearach - the gaelic name for inhabitants of the island - are to be produced a year at the £10m Isle of Harris Distillery Ltd, which is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
It is only the second whisky distillery to be built in the Outer Hebrides - the other being on the Isle of Lewis - and will open up an entirely new whisky region for Scotland.
Work has already started on the plant that will eventually bring 20 vital jobs to the island.
The distillery, which has attracted finance from 17 private investors around the world, has also won the support of the Harris Tweed Authority, local politicians and the people of the island themselves, as well as whisky enthusiasts and connoisseurs.
The project has also secured £1.9 million in funding from the Scottish Government.
Simon Erlanger, Director of Isle of Harris Distillery Ltd, said: “We are building the ‘social distillery’ for the island and people of Harris.
“The Hearach single malt will create sustainable employment and economic growth and optimism for the people of Harris - while the spirit of Harris itself will shape the unique character of this new whisky.
“Harris is an elemental place. The way of life in the island has deep roots, its people take time to savour what they enjoy and we believe The Hearach single malt will reflect that.”
The first of The Hearach will not be available in shops until it has matured for a number of years, but a limited number of casks from the first year’s production will be made available for sale.
Visitors to the island - recently voted by TripAdvisor users as the finest in Europe - will also be able to visit the distillery, and a members’ club is also set to be founded.
Mr Erlanger added: “Collectively, we hope that this will give anyone who is interested a chance to get involved.”