* My vist to the Isle of Lewis & Harris was part of a press trip with Larkfire – Wild Water for Whisky *
I had such a lovely time on The Isle of Lewis & Harris with the rest of the group!
On our penultimate day on the island we got up early and drove for about an hour to reach the other side where Abhainn Dearg is located. At first we missed it completely as the GPS was giving us various information about where we needed to go. But finally we found the parking to the distillery.
It’s definitely not a huge place and you kind of feel like you are walking in to someones farm. Especially since the building functioning as a Visitor Centre is in the middle of it all.
We had a tour and got shown around by one of the distillers. The distillery was started by a man named Marco who is an islander. The distillery is named after the “Red River” (Abhainn Dearg) that runs next to the distillery. It also provides the water for the production.
I would say that Abhainn Dearg seems to be as close of a replica of illegal distilling as you can possibly get today. The whole process is made a local as possible with stills that were modelled on old illicit stills. I also believe the stills are built from old boilers. The distillery also uses worm tubs. It is a type of condenser that provides less copper contact then it’s alternative Shell & Tube, and results in a heavier and more sulphuric spirit.
On the photos you can see only one of the worm tubs as one was being replaced.
It was fascinating to see their warehouse which was housed right next-door to the Visitor Centre. We found out that the owner had sourced the casks when opening the distillery from a contact that works with one of the Scottish cooperages. He also reuses the casks as second and third fills for his whisky. There’s definitely a variety of cask here and I wonder what the process will be when he eventually runs out of casks to reuse.
After our tour we tried two of the whiskies. The 10 year old and also one of the cask strength editions. The 10 year old certainly has a gritty taste to it and the taste suits the whole experience. If you are used to any of the smooth ten year old whiskies that any of the larger whisky distilleries produce, this will be a very different experience. In the midst of the gritty flavour there’s also hints of tropical fruit.
Have you been to Abhainn Dearg or tried their whisky? I’d love to hear what you thought of it in the comments below!