A Coastal Scottish Gin for the Coastal Bend

Scottish Distillery Launches Multi-Award Winning Gin in Corpus Christi

by JANE KATHLEEN GREGORIO

While 4,624 miles separate ​Corpus Christi from Scotland, Coastal Bend gin connoisseurs now have the opportunity to try an award winning product from The Isle of Harris Distillery (IOHD), located on a small island  in the Outer Hebrides off the far north-western coast of Scotland, on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

 IOHD, also nicknamed the Social Distillery, opened in October 2015, in the small harbor village of Tarbert and was the vision of Anderson ‘Burr’ Bakewell, who wanted to create something that would provide employment for generations to come by shining a light on this special place with the world. The idea was to bring people together, to share the special spirit of Harris, and create a sense of belonging regardless of where you are from.  

The Distillery’s main purpose is to create jobs, support the fragile local economy and address issues surrounding population decline in the Outer Hebrides. In the 1950’s over 4,000 people were living in the community, however, today there are less than 2,000 people that still have strong roots and family ties to the land going back many generations. 

Five local distillers and a young apprentice learned their craft from scratch and created a single malt whisky and an Outer Hebridean gin. Over 30 full-time staff helped create these iconic spirits and now welcome visitors from all over the world. The distillery now provides secure employment and gives people a reason to continue living and working in Harris.

The Social Distillery has a main public space where a large open fire burns as a symbol of warmth, comfort, and life. During the evenings, the distillery is often open to the public for gatherings, performances, and book readings around the fireside. While waiting for their new-make spirit to mature into a single malt whisky, the inaugural Isle of Harris Gin has already become a large success and has inspired a following of gin-lovers, exceeding all sales expectations.

The taste of Isle of Harris Gin is defined by juniper, coriander, angelica root, orris root, cubebs, bitter orange peel, liquorice, and cassia bark, but its flavor stands out because of the sustainably harvested sugar kelp from the seas around the Outer Hebrides, that marks out this spirit, creating subtle coastal notes. Instead of the more mainstream method of recycling, the distillers discard the ‘heads’ and ‘tails’ of the spirit run, leaving only the preferred part of  the distillate’s ‘heart’ to create an exceptional and premium smoothness.

Tasting notes from the Harris Distillery describe for the nose: a well-defined juniper note with pine needles, immediately followed by the fresh citrus notes of bitter orange, lime, and grapefruit. It develops a complex floral note of rose and wallflowers with crushed green herbs, coriander, and gooseberry all underpinned by mixed spice. Sugar kelp adds to the complexity and richness with a dry maritime note. For the palate: refreshing, with good balance between the bitter juniper and pine and the sweet fruit flavours of mango, grapefruit, and orange. A green herb flavour develops with crushed coriander; distinctive and smooth with a dry, flinty taste.

As for the finish, it is long and clean. As the juniper and citrus peel notes fade away, sweet vanilla, and black pepper remain with a gentle reminder of the sea.

Since 2016, Harris Gin has won multiple awards, each year, winning Consumer Choice, Gold for the 2020 Scottish Gin Society Awards, and Gold for the 2021 World Gin Awards.  Isle of Harris Gin can now be found at Liquid Town stores in Corpus Christi. 

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