Karen Betts (Photo: Scotch Whisky Association)
Karen Betts (Photo: Scotch Whisky Association)

New Hebridean island whisky trail all set to launch

Dram lovers can enjoy several whisky trails on the Scottish mainland – and now something new is on the way.

The island landscapes of Skye, Raasay and Harris will form the backdrop to Scotland’s newest whisky adventure, the Hebridean Whisky Trail.

The new trail has been designed with intrepid whisky wanderers in mind, connecting four neighbouring distilleries – Isle of Raasay Distillery, Torabhaig Distillery, Talisker Distillery and the Isle of Harris Distillery – through one spectacular 115-mile route.

The Isle of Raasay Distillery opened to visitors in January 2018; as well as pioneering a new provenance for Scotch Whisky, the distillery has become a welcome new tourist destination for this small Hebridean island. Having already won plaudits for its unique style of whisky making, unrivalled views and dedication to the local community, The Isle of Raasay Distillery is the perfect addition to a trail that celebrates the distinctive whiskies, landscapes and island heritage of this beautiful area of Scotland.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, will launch the trail on 15 August at an official opening ceremony taking place at Raasay Distillery.

Alasdair Day, co-founder of Raasay Distillery, said: ‘The Hebridean Whisky Trail offers an opportunity for visitors to experience the rich culture, provenance and landscape of three of the Scotland’s Hebridean Islands; Harris, Raasay and Skye while visiting four very different Scotch Whisky distilleries.’

Set amidst some of Scotland’s most scenic sea and mountain locations, each distillery has its own distinctive character and atmosphere. From the oldest, Talisker, founded in 1830, to the youngest, Isle of Raasay which began production in 2017, all four have unique stories and approaches to the craft of making whisky.

The new trail can be enjoyed by road or by sea with three Calmac ferry crossings linking the destinations, as well as yacht berthing facilities near to each distillery. By sea, the Trail can be charted clockwise or anti-clockwise around Skye; intrepid sea-farers can set sail from any of the four distilleries from points north, south, east or west.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association (Photo: Scotch Whisky Association)

Road travellers can begin their journey either by crossing over the Skye Bridge at Kyle, or start at the Trail’s northernmost point on Harris, or its southernmost point, at Torabhaig on Skye’s Sleat peninsula. Raasay is only a short 25-minute ferry journey Sconser on Skye and the distillery is located a short stroll from the ferry terminal.

Raasay Distillery’s guided tours cater for all levels of whisky knowledge, from the curious to the connoisseur. Tour guides are local islanders who share their unrivalled knowledge of Raasay’s geography, community and whisky mythology. Visitors can pause their Hebridean odyssey on Raasay by booking to stay in the luxurious distillery accommodation. Visitors can enjoy a few drams in the lounge and then wake up to the magnificent panorama of the Cuillin mountains on Skye.

The journey continues, and its impressive route will tick off many iconic Hebridean sights, from the vertiginous peaks on Skye to the white sandy beaches of Harris. The Hebridean Whisky Trail will offer whisky pilgrims and touring visitors another reason to explore the majestic Hebridean islands.

Anne O’Lone, Torabhaig Visitor Centre Manager at Torabhaig Distillery, added: ‘By collaborating, Torabhaig acts as an ambassador not only for each distillery on the Hebridean Whisky trail but for the whole of the Hebrides.’

Shona Macleod, guest services manager at Isle of Harris Distillery: ‘In just its second year, The Isle of Harris distillery welcomed over 80,000 guests in 2017 and we are pleased to be contributing to the growth in tourism in the Outer Hebrides.
‘The Hebridean Whisky Trail will provide an impetus for whisky lovers to go that extra mile and visit the first legal whisky distillery on the Isle of Harris.’

Diane Farrell, Talisker Distillery manager, concluded: ‘We are lucky to live and work in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and to make one of the most iconic products in the world, Scotch whisky.

‘We are delighted to work with our fellow distillers to welcome visitors to the Hebrides and to offer them the very best in Scottish hospitality.’