Raasay Distillery

Celtic myths, Norse heritage, whales, dolphins and eagles

Raasay Distillery

Pronounced: RA-say
Meaning: Isle of the roe dear (from Norse)
Our interesting fact! The island is home to sea eagles, red roe dear and its very own sub-species of bank vole. The distillery opened in 2017 as the island’s “first ever legal single malt distillery”!

Eco, Sustainability and Community

This recently built distillery has been part of the community and its island home from the outset. Bringing much needed jobs to the tiny island it is the subject for many case studies in reviving skills and a young population in far-flung rural areas.

The water source of the distillery has a fascinating history.  Falling as rain on Dùn Cana, the island’s highest peak, water flows across volcanic rock and filters through Jurassic sandstone into the distillery well, know since ancient times as Tobar na Ba Bàine (the Well of the Pale Cow).  History flows through this mineral-rich Raasay water that adds character to the spirit at every stage of production, from mashing, to cask reduction and bottling.  There have been natural springs and a water source on the site of the distillery’s Borodale House since Celtic / iron age times, when the pale cow was thought to bring fertility to the land.

The Selkie challenge. The distillery has partnered with James Armour, “The Selkie” to support the ‘Selkie challenge”.  James became the first person to run, swim and cycle the length of the Outer Hebrides in aid of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. The ‘Selkie’ were mythological Celtic and Norse seal-folk that could shed their seal skin to come on to land in human form.

Local barley experiments.  In 2017 the distillery started barley variety trials on Raasay. The aim was to find a variety that would grow on Raasay in the very short growing season (May to August), beginning with five varieties: Concerto, Golden Promise, Bere, Iskria and Kannas. Three of these varieties (Bere, Iskria and Kannas) ripened, were harvested and malted using Raasay peat. The first spirit from this Raasay barley was distilled in 2018 and this is currently maturing in ex bourbon casks in the dunnage warehouse on Raasay.