The Hearach First Release Batch 1 & The Hearach First Release Batch 5


Today, we look at two of the initial batches of the Hearach.

For those wondering, the name “Hearach” is a term used to describe a native of Harris. Before we proceed with the reviews, here's some background/technical details about the distillery.

The Isle of Harris Distillery, situated in Tarbert on the Isle of Harris, was founded in 2015 with an initial investment of £10 million. Initially starting with a team of 10, the distillery has since grown and now employs 50 staff members.

Their production has a capacity of 0.23 million litres per annum with a fermentation time ranging between 72 to 120 hours. The distillery utilises a shell and tube condenser type and an external heat exchanger system as its heat source. The malt specification for their core expression sits at 12-14ppm, supplied by Bairds of Inverness. Their process uses a semi-lauter mash tun type, and their new-make spirit comes out at a strength of 69% ABV. The spirit still is onion-shaped with a charge of 4,000 litres, expanding to a size of 5,000 litres. Similarly, the wash still is onion-shaped, holding a charge of 6,000 litres and reaching a size of 7,000 litres. They use 5 washbacks made of Oregon pine, each with a capacity of 6,000 litres.

Warehousing for their spirits is organized both on-site in Tarbert and off-site in Ardhasaig.

The Hearach First Release Batch 1

Region: Highlands

ABV: 46%

Price: £65.00

The Hearach Batch 1 was peated to approximately 12.8 ppm and was made from 85% ex-bourbon casks (21% Heaven Hill, 64% Buffalo Trace), 11% ex-oloroso and 4% ex-fino casks. 12,313 bottles were released.

Nose

It’s very fruity, with the bourbon cask sweetness dominating the nose: green apples, strawberries, and pears. As we sit with it, we're reminded of a sherbet dib dab. There's also a hint of Appletiser, a very light burnt note, and the orange and mango notes reminiscent of Rubicon. We're not detecting anything obvious on the nose to suggest it's overly young.

Palate

On the palate, there's more of the fruit noted from the nose. We prefer our whisky at cask strength, but we feel this has been bottled close to the ideal ABV; it retains a good mouthfeel, and the alcohol provides a pleasant warmth. The peat manifests as tobacco, accompanied by notes of strawberry jam, plums, a hint of grapefruit bitterness, and warming peppery spice. The finish is of good length and leaves a lingering sweetness.

Nose (with water)

Burnt toast, pistachios, and warehouse funk dominate the nose. It's less fruity, yet we still detect a considerable amount of apples and pears. The sherbet sweetness has faded. Personally, we'd advise against dilution for this one.

Palate (with water)

When reduced, we noticing more bitterness on the palate. The flavours have shifted from fruity to be more herbal, with notes of lavender and heather with a touch of salt. The mouthfeel remains consistent, and the finish retains its good length. It's different with water, but not necessarily worse.

Conclusion

Personally we think the whisky needs a few more years maturing to really shine, but there’s no doubt this is a really strong start for the distillery.

Score: 7/10

Value

it’s older than a lot of “inaugural” releases and also manages to buck the trend and come in at sub a £100. It’s very hard to complain.


The Hearach First Release Batch 5

Region: Highlands

ABV: 46.0%

Price: £65.00

The Hearach Batch 5 was peated to approximately 12.1ppm and is made from 85% ex-bourbon casks (21% Heaven Hill, 64% Buffalo Trace), 11% ex-oloroso and 4% ex-fino casks. 12,326 bottles were released.

Nose

This shares many of the sweet notes with batch 1, including sherbet and green apples, with an added hint of sugar paper. As we spend time with it, it reveals a less sweet, slightly more savoury character, introducing notes of almonds and grilled pineapples. Personally, we have a preference for the nose on batch one.

Palate

Batch 5 is saltier with a more pronounced caramel and synthetic sweetness compared to batch one. It also has notes of tobacco and leather. While the mouthfeel is largely similar, the finish leans less towards warming peppery spice and more towards grapefruit bitterness. Additionally, there's a more warehouse funk here. Again, we’re leaning towards batch 1.

Nose (with water)

With a few drops of water, the dominant notes evolve into mushy bananas, tobacco, whipped cream, and leather. Most of the fruity notes, except for apple, have faded, and the whisky now reminds us of a dessert pastry—akin to an apple turnover with cream.

Palate (with water)

With the addition of water, the mouthfeel has significantly diminished, becoming quite watery. The palate is now dominated by tobacco notes and an amplified synthetic sweetness, reminiscent of flat limeade. While the finish retains its length, it now has an excess of bitterness.

Conclusion

To be honest, considering the cask composition, we expected less variance in taste and smell between the two. Given the distinct differences, we're happy to have been able to sample both. Although it's a commendable start for the distillery, this feels a notch below batch 1.

Score: 6.5/10

Value

See our comments on batch 1.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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