Review of Isle of Harris Gin

So I was looking through my 2017 Best Nine and 4 (actually 5 if you count my gin tasting post as well) featured the beautiful Isle of Harris Gin. You guys really like this gin! A long time ago I announced that I would make a review of it so I guess now it’s time for a review of Isle of Harris Gin.

9 most likes pictures from my Instagram Profile

Isle of Harris Gin – The Best Nine hero

The distillery was founded in 2015 by American Anderson Bakewell, an educated music researcher, with a love for.. whisky – Yes whisky. Anderson fell in love with the raw nature on Isle of Harris when he visited the island for the first time in the 1960s and therefore chose this to be the location for the distillery.

The island have just under 2,000 residents where the majority is earning their income from tourism. Anderson wanted the distillery to add 20 new job positions for the island and therefore he also calls it a social distillery since it’s helping the community on the island.

So Anderson really loves whisky and Isle of Harris Distillers LTD. is first and foremost a whisky distillery making a single malt whisky called The Hearach. But making a single malt whisky takes minimum 3 years before the can call it a single malt whisky so one way to get a cash flow (like a lot other whisky destillers) is to make a gin and the 4 distillers therefore agreed to develop a gin that was true to what Anderson had felt in love with in the island.

Isle of harris shot from the top where you can see the coordinates to the distillery
Isle of Harris Gin from the top where you can see the coordinates to the distillery

However, they didn’t want to empty the island for resources and therefore looked for a botanical that they could use that was sustainable. Being in the spirit of using and helping the community on the island the distillers got help from a local botanist and ended up using sugar kelp sourced just outside the coast from a local diver.

…each label is one of a kind flecked with fragments of sugar kelp and copper leaf

Because the sugar kelp is such an unusual botanical, the gin was developed at the International Center for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh where they could experiment and adjust until they had the right amount and combination with the other botanicals. They ended up with actually letting the sugar kelp macerate and then remove it before the distillation as it’s flavor would drown the other botanicals flavors.

The Botanicals

Base: Grain neutral spirit

  • Juniper
  • Coriander
  • Angelica Root
  • Orris Root
  • Cubeb Pepper
  • Bitter Orange Peel
  • Licorice
  • Cassia Bark
  • Sugar Kelp

The very classic botanicals are distilled in small copperstill “The Dottach” where Isle of Harris Distillers LTD. try to capture the raw nature on the island and especially the maritime influences of the seas.

Bottle and label design

This bottle is truly one of a kind and is designed by Stranger and Stranger. The bottle have a blue bottom which you actually can’t see if you look straight to the bottle but from an angle the azure blue bottom transforms the whole bottle. The small curved grooves is being transformed to small waves and the ripples of water that changes the bottle completely. The wooden cap has Isle of Harris Distillers’ logo laser cutted beautiful in to it and is sealed with a small label with the coordinates to the distillery. Last but not last each label is one of a kind flecked with fragments of sugar kelp and copper leaf. Overall this is one of the most beautiful gin bottles out there and it tells the story of the gin and it’s origin.

Label and bottle up close of Isle of Harris Gin
Each label is one of a kind flecked with fragments of sugar kelp and copper leaf

Let’s taste

So is this gin really something special? Let’s find out.

Nose

The juniper is present but not overpowering leaving room for some of the other botanicals. There is a clear fragrance of citrus fruits, a scent of pepper from the cubeb pepper but also some floral notes. A very soft and pleasant experience.

The palate

The gin is soft and smooth with a citrus profile but soon to be taking over by a peppery-warmth as the gin leaves you mouth. Slowly the juniper takes over before it goes over to a herbal and sweet finish with hints of vanilla. Your mouth is left with hints of the maritime sugar kelp and pepper.

Gin & Tonic

This gin really doesn’t need any tonic or garnish but if you really have to make a Gin and Tonic this makes a really (like really really) great Gin and Tonic.

  • 50 ml Isle of Harris Gin
  • 100 ml tonic (both Fever-Tree Indian Tonic and Mediterranean tonic goes well with the gin)
  • Lots of ice or some big ones
  • Garnish with a half a slice of organic red grapefruit.

Serve it all in your favorite glassware. I usually use a lowball glass from Frederik Bagger.

Gin and Tonic with a slice of red grapefruit
Gin and Tonic with a slice of red grapefruit

Conclusion and rating

This is by far one of the most beautiful bottle designs out there for a gin and like me you it’s probably also one of your most liked pictures on Instagram if you like me post pictures of gin. The gin is super smooth and is definitely made to be enjoyed neat but it also makes an epic G&T. The gin isn’t that expensive but it can be hard to get since very few retailers (only one in Denmark) are selling it – If you come by it buy it!

Personally I would have liked some more of the maritime scent and flavors that makes this gin unique and therefor I can’t give it top score even though this gin is one of my favorite gins.

Rating

★★★★★☆

Price

$$$$$$

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