Isle of Raasay offers dream job for whisky

The multimillion-pound Raasay Distillery is set to produce 150,000 bottles a year.
The multimillion-pound Raasay Distillery is set to produce 150,000 bottles a year.
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Wanted: distiller to produce the first (legal) single malt from the Isle of Raasay. Must be enthusiastic about remote island life.

The dream job will see the successful whisky-maker relocate to the tiny Inner Hebridean island, approximately 14 miles long by three miles wide, population 120, reached by a 15-minute ferry journey from Sconser off the east coast of the Isle of Skye.

Applicants would have to rely on the ferry crossing to Skye

Applicants would have to rely on the ferry crossing to Skye

The multimillion-pound Raasay Distillery, being built by Edinburgh-based R&B Distillers, is set to produce 150,000 bottles a year of its own brand from its casks. Distilling will start this summer with the first Isle of Raasay single malt being ready in 2020.

Applicants must be able to “hit the ground running” and have a formal qualification in distilling. Practical experience is essential for the role, as is an “appreciation for innovation”.

The distillery which opens in the summer is the latest chapter in the island’s whisky 
history, which until the 1850s centred round illicit stills – neighbours on Skye would demonstrate community spirit by hanging out white washing to warn Raasay’s ‘‘distillers’ that the tax man was approaching.

Alasdair Day, the company’s co-founder, said that applications had been received from applicants world-wide.

Raasay is advertising for a head distiller to run the production of the Raasay While We Wait whisky.

Raasay is advertising for a head distiller to run the production of the Raasay While We Wait whisky.

“The most important thing is that we want someone to live on Raasay. This is a huge opportunity and we’ve had applicants from abroad and all over. It would be good if they knew Raasay or had family connections, but that might not be possible.

“This is the type of job you’d normally only come across in Scotland’s central belt. It’s a great chace to do something different with your life while using your qualifications.

“It’s a wonderful place with great views and wildlife, it’s a real windswept island with lots of romance and history.”

Mr Day said the only “disadvantage” was access to Skye and the mainland.

“There’s Raasay community store for doing a bit of shopping but the new distiller would have to rely on the ferry crossing which runs once an hour, and stops for lunch, to get them to Skye to do the bulk of their shopping.

“There are good shops there including a good Co-op in Broadford.”

As well as a purpose-built distillery the new enterprise will house a visitor centre and whisky tasting room in Victorian Borodale House which is currently undergoing refurbishment. The house’s upper floors will provide bedrooms for those joining R&B’s Na Tùsairean club (Gaelic for ‘The Pioneer’) as a member.

The island, birthplace of poet Sorley MacLean has also become famous in recent years for “Calum’s Road”, a novel and a National Theatre of Scotland play honouring Raasay crofter Calum MacLeod who built a road to save his township.