A company which sources ‘wild water’ from the Isle of Lewis for drinkers to enjoy with their whisky is uniting remote island communities in a digital collaboration from today (Friday May 1).
It involves a small whisky shop in the Outer Hebrides, a well-known Scottish distiller and a whisky expert.
James McIntosh, the founder of wild water brand Larkfire, is launching an online ‘Whisky & Wild’ tastings series together with whisky expert Matt Chambers and Hebridean whisky, Jura.
Larkfire has sent free tasting packs with samples of its wild water and bottles of 12, 18 and 21-year-old Jura whisky to islanders with the aim of keeping spirits high while businesses and communities are on lockdown and tourism is on hold.
Whisky blogger and awards judge Mr Chambers will be hosting the live whisky tastings on Instagram, encouraging islanders to connect and communicate during lockdown.
Mr McIntosh, whose Larkfire business already supports local initiatives through a partnership which donates a percentage of sales to The Stornoway Trust, hopes that the new digital initiative will support communities.
He said: “We’re keen to support communities and businesses on the islands and were mulling over what we could do to help, just to raise spirits a little.
“We heard about Stornoway start-up business, the Island Spirit Whisky shop, having to postpone its opening because of the current situation, and it gave us the idea of doing something virtually. We contacted owner Iain Faller and he’s put us in contact with other businesses.
“What sounds like the start of a joke about a bar – a wild water for whisky, a whisky shop and a distiller start working together – is happening, ironically, because there are no bars open.
“We are launching the first ‘Whisky & Wild’ tasting on Friday May 1, inviting islanders to join a free online session hosted by Matt. We hope to unite many people in raising a glass during lockdown, supporting each other and promoting local businesses across the islands and beyond.”
Larkfire is stocked by prestigious venues including Boisdale Group sites in Mayfair, Belgravia, Canary Wharf and Bishopsgate. Soho Whisky Club also uses Larkfire for its tasting events, and Islington restaurant Frederick’s offers Larkfire alongside its range of world whiskies. It was named Best Premium Drink at the World Beverage Innovation Awards.
Mr McIntosh said: “In Scotland there is incredible passion and care involved in making whisky, so if you enjoy a splash of water with your dram, it’s important not to undo any elements of the complex distilling and aging process by ensuring you’re adding the best possible water.
“People often add tap water to scotch, but the water has been recycled several times before it reaches your glass, and the added chlorine and fluoride interfere with the delicate whisky flavours. Bottled water also has a high mineral content which affects the aroma and taste.
"However, Larkfire is the perfect water to mix with whisky as it is pure and naturally soft with an exceptionally low mineral content thanks to the billion-year-old Lewisian gneiss rocks, a key feature of the geology of the Isle of Lewis."
A percentage of Larkfire sales flow back into the islands via a partnership with The Stornoway Trust, which looks after 69,000 acres of land on the Isle of Lewis, where the water is sourced. The Outer Hebrides is home to 15% of the UK’s freshwater by surface area.