Isle of Harris

Isle of Harris on the Outer Hebrides & Highlands tour

Tuesday, 3rd September 2019

Today’s itinerary is a journey, by coach through the Isle of Harris.

We are again guided and driven by the double act of Chris Ryan and John Murdo. Heading south from Stornoway we travel south through the Isle of Lewis and down to the Isle of Harris. They are, in fact, one island, but were ruled by two distinct McLeod clans so have historically been treated as two separate areas and hence the names.

Once in Harris we travel down to Seilebost.

The landscape changes in this area to a ‘lunar landscape’. Stanley Kubricks’ 2001: A Space Odyssey’s Jupiter, alien planet surface scenes, where filmed here.

At Seilebost we stop for views of the sandy beaches.

On arrival in Tarbert we have lunch at the Harris Hotel.

After lunch we visit the Harris Tweed shop.

We then walk to the Harris Distillery.

This distillery was recently built as a community project, first distilling in 2016. In order to be called a Scottish single malt whisky, it must mature in barrels for 3 years. Harris distillery plan to mature theirs for longer. As a consequence in order to generate funds while they wait to sell their own malt whisky, they distill, bottle and sell Harris Gin.

The botanical that is unique to the Harris Gin is a seaweed called sugar kelp. The sugar kelp is hand-harvested by a local diver from the deep underwater forests of the Outer Hebrides.

So following our visit to the stills, we visited the small bonded warehouse where their privately owned barrels of 2016 whisky are stored. Each barrel has the name of the owner stencilled on it. This very much reminded me of my visit to the Isle of Arran distillery where I saw the two sherry puncheons of first year Arran Whisky that I used to own.

After the distillery we drove over to visit the Isle of Scalpay. As we cross the bridge to the island we see a boat towing a mussel farm inland.

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