Situated in the Inner Hebrides is the magical Isle of Raasay. Raasay lies between the Isle of Skye and Applecross on the Scottish mainland. It can be reached by a short ferry journey across the Sound of Raasay from Sconser on Skye.
Raasay is 24 square miles in area and has a population of approximately 150 people. Inhabitants of Raasay have historically worked in tourism, crofting, fishing or commuted to Skye for work. Around 10% of the population of Raasay are now employed at Isle of Raasay Distillery. Younger children can attend the primary school on the island but secondary pupils take the ferry and a bus to the high school in Portree.
Raasay is most famous for being the birthplace of Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean, an important figure in the Scottish Renaissance.
Distilling on Raasay
Raasay is rooted in centuries of illicit distilling and there is evidence of this taking place as recently as 1850. In September 2017, more than 150 years later, the first legal distillery on Raasay opened after the conversion of Borodale House.
Borodale House was a Victorian hotel which had fallen into disrepair. The team from Isle of Raasay Distillery extended the old hotel with a stunning modern structure which houses the production of their single malt whisky and gin. There is also a visitor centre and accommodation on site.
The unique geology of the island provides the ingredients for the perfect dram including water from a private well which has flowed across volcanic rock and filtered through Jurassic sandstone to add minerals crucial to the flavour of their spirits.
The focus for Isle of Raasay Distillery is on creating a light, fruity and slightly smoky single malt whisky. However, this has not stopped them creating a refreshing Hebridean gin which was released in 2019.
Raasay Gin is a fresh and aromatic gin which is made with a total of 10 botanicals including juniper from the island. Other botanicals include rhubarb root, lemon peel, orange peel, coriander seeds, angelica root, liquorice root, orris root and cubeb pepper.
The botanicals are then distilled with triple distilled Raasay spirit before being cut with the freshest spring water.
The result is a refreshing, zesty dry gin with bursts of orange and a hint of rhubarb.
Raasay Gin makes a great G&T when served over ice with a classic tonic water and slice of juicy orange. A 1:3 gin to tonic ratio works perfectly.