Raasay whisky distillery rises to self-sufficiency challenge

A tiny Scottish island which saw it’s first ever legal distillery begin production last year is aiming to become completely self sufficient in the production of whisky.

Ramsay barley field

Raasay barley field

Following a successful barley variety trial on the island in 2017 the Isle of Raasay Distillery is to undertake a second trial to determine which varieties grow and ripen best on the island.

Raasay Distillery has the ultimate long-term objective of growing enough barley of its own to produce at least one batch per year of single malt made with 100 per cent Raasay ingredients. .

For the 2018 trial, Raasay Distillery will work with Peter Martin, Director of Agronomy Institute at University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), and local farmer Andrew Gillies to cultivate four varieties in Mill Park Field on the island.

The varieties to be trialled are Iskria,  an early two row Icelandic variety; Golden Promise, a two row U.K. malting variety first released in the 1960s; Anneli, an early two row Swedish Variety; and Brage, a medium-early six row Norwegian variety.

At an open day on 2nd August at the distillery Peter Martin will introduce the barley varieties and discuss the challenges that have been encountered while growing commercial varieties on Raasay.

Co-founder of Raasay Distillery, Alasdair Day, will also discuss the background and future of the project and Hugh Alexander from Curio Group will be explain the processes involved in micro-malting the Raasay Barley.

Visitors will be able to see the barley field and to witness the mash of the first Raasay barley.

With a Celtic well on site providing access to high mineral content water, as well as a good supply of peat in the north of the island, Raasay Distillery is keen to create at least one batch of Raasay Scotch per year that uses all-local ingredients.

Although this whisky will be a small percentage of total production, the distillery is keen to challenge the limitations of production in such an unusual location.



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